No athlete is immune from concussion, but the effects can be especially serious on young, developing brains. It’s important for parents, youth, and coaches to be aware of concussion symptoms and respond to them promptly.
What Causes Concussion?
Any hit to the head can cause a concussion. Even a blow to another part of the body that results in a rapid back-and-forth motion of the head and brain can cause a concussion.
What to Look For
Because you can’t see a concussion, close observation is important. Symptoms may show up right after the injury or not until days later. Here’s what to watch out for, according to the CDC:
- Does the child appear dazed or stunned? Confused about events? Answer questions slowly or repeat questions? Lose consciousness—even briefly? Show behavior or personality changes? Forget his or her class schedule or assignments?
- Is the child irritable, sad, more emotional than usual, or nervous?
- Does the child say he has difficulty thinking clearly, concentrating, or remembering? Is she feeling slow, sluggish, hazy, foggy, or groggy?
- Are there physical changes—headaches or head pressure? Nausea or vomiting? Balance problems or dizziness? Fatigue or tiredness? Blurry or double vision? Sensitivity to light or noise? Numbness or tingling?
Parents should be proactive and get educated on the signs of a concussion. There are many opportunities to further your knowledge and awareness through local conferences, school talks, or online. The CDC is an excellent source of information.
Consider getting a baseline concussion test, especially if your child plays a contact or collision sport. By getting a baseline concussion test—the most widely used is ImPACT (Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing)—your healthcare provider will have important information to assist in making sound decisions about any potential head injury.
If an Injury Occurs
If a child has been injured and you suspect a concussion, coaches and parents need to remove the athlete from play right away for evaluation. Anyone who stays in the game after sustaining a concussion is in danger of further brain injury. Tools like the SCAT5 (Sport Concussion Assessment Tool) and child SCAT5, help athletic trainers and others provide an initial, standardized evaluation at the sidelines. A health-care provider with experience in managing concussions will help determine when it’s safe to resume activities and school.
Your child needs to rely on you to lead the way back to health. Time is required to heal. You’ll have to limit activities like exercising, studying, playing video games, and working on a computer. Overdoing it can cause symptoms to reappear.
And remember, after a concussion; always work with your doctor or other health-care professional to manage your child’s physical and cognitive activities.
Baseline ImPACT testing is available through LG Health Physicians Sports Medicine. For testing information and an appointment, call 717-627-7675.