Don’t Let Concussion Season Blindside You
Pediatric neurologists often call the fall “concussion season” due to sports such as football, cheerleading, soccer, drill team, etc. While sports for children and adolescents can be so beneficial in terms of self-esteem development, exercise benefits, and team camaraderie, it can also put them at risk for injuries such as concussions. Concussions are the most common type of mild brain injury resulting from a direct blow to the head, face, neck, or elsewhere on the body with an “impulsive” force transmitted to the head. The event is characterized as a neurochemical event (changes in chemistry of the brain) that causes a disturbance in the brain’s functioning, but does not cause changes to the brain’s structure. It may or may not result in the loss of consciousness. Ten to fourteen year-old boys and girls have the highest rates of sports-related concussions and ER visits. Additionally, females are at a higher risk for concussions, across all ages and all sports.
The most important aspect of concussions for parents and coaches to understand are the signs and symptoms of concussions. There are physical, cognitive, emotional and sleep symptoms of a concussion. Physical symptoms include headaches, nausea, fatigue, visual problems, and balance problems. Cognitive (thinking) symptoms are feeling mentally foggy, problems with concentration and attention, memory difficulties, and feeling mentally slow. Emotional symptoms consist of irritability, sadness, anxiety, and feeling more emotional. Finally, sleep symptoms include: drowsiness, sleeping more or less than usual, and trouble falling or staying asleep. If your child has any of the following symptoms or receives a blow to their head, face or neck, it is important that you take them to their pediatrician for further investigation of the symptoms.
After receiving medical care, the following guidelines are helpful to follow as you are helping your child heal from a concussion. They can be followed until your child’s doctor lifts these restrictions.
1. Rest! It is the key to quick recovery. Your child should not participate in any high risk activities that place them at risk for re-injury. Limit social activities, errands, and recreational events.
2. Inform the school about the injury and symptoms.
3. Limit the activities that require thinking and concentration (this includes school work, tests and quizzes). Your child’s doctor can be helpful in writing a note to the school to provide guidelines on how to limit these activities.
4. Minimize screen time (limit use of phones, iPads, computers, TV’s, etc)
5. Get lots of sleep. Eliminate late night and keep bedtimes the same on weekends and school nights.
6. Drink fluids and eat regularly.
7. Immediately stop activities that make symptoms worse.
We hope this information helps in keeping your children safe during fall sports! Please note that Sparrow House Counseling content does not take the place of a thorough medical evaluation.
(This information was gathered from the Dell Children’s Medical Center of Central Texas concussion clinic as well as from the National Association of Neuropsychologists.)