What is a concussion?
A concussion is a type of brain injury that changes the way the brain normally works. A concussion is caused by a bump, blow or jolt to the head. It can also be caused by a blow to the body that causes the head and brain to move rapidly back and forth. It is important to know that a concussion can occur without a loss of consciousness.
What are the health consequences of a concussion?
Concussions can have serious long-term health effects, especially on the developing brains of children and teens. Untreated concussions can have serious consequences:
- Post Concussion Syndrome is a series of symptoms that can be experienced for weeks, months or more than a year after the concussion.
- Second Impact Syndrome is a rare condition in which a second, often mild, impact occurs when someone is still suffering from an initial concussion that results in 50% of the cases ending in death and the other half in permanent brain damage.
- Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) is a progressive degenerative disease resulting from multiple concussions.
There are steps that can be taken to prevent concussions:
- Make sure they follow rules for safety and rules of the sport
- Encourage them to practice good sportsmanship
- Make sure they wear the right protective equipment for each type of activity.
Proper recognition and response can prevent further injury and can help with recovery. If treated properly, the majority of people will fully recover from a concussion. However, untreated concussions can lead to serious injury or death. It is important to learn the signs and symptoms of a concussion.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has created a concussion prevention campaign with information for parents, schools, coaches and youth athletes. Make sure your child’s school and coaches are aware of this information. The Heads Up toolkits can be downloaded for free at http://www.cdc.gov/concussion.
The signs and symptoms of a concussion may occur minutes, hours or days after the injury. It is important to watch for changes in behavior. If one or more of the symptoms below are identified, seek medical attention right away.
|Signs and Symptoms of a Concussion in a Child/Teen|
|Signs Observed by Parents||Signs Reported by Child|
|Appears stunned or dazed||Headache or pressure in the head|
|Shows behavioral or personality changes||Balance problems or dizziness|
|Is confused about events||Nausea/Vomiting|
|Answers questions slowly and repeats questions||Sensitivity to light or noise|
|Can’t recall events prior or after event||Blurred vision or double vision|
|Forgets class schedule or assignments||Feel “dzed”, sluggish, foggy or groggy|
|Loses consciousness (even briefly)||Difficulty concentrating or remembering|
|Trouble thinking or concentrating||Sleep distrubances|
|Feeling irritable, sad, nervous or more emotional|
What should I do if my child has a concussion?
- Seek medical attention right away from a health care professional experienced in evaluating and treating concussions.
- A concussed brain needs time to heal. Physical activities and activities requiring a lot of concentration should be limited and monitored by a health care professional.
- Avoid over-stimulation
- Refrain from giving them any medication unless prescribed by the doctor
- Learn more about the potential long-term effects of concussions and the dangers of returning too soon to normal activities.
How can I help my child return to school safely after a concussion?
- Inform your child’s teachers, school nurse, coach, counselor and others about your child’s concussion and develop a plan to limit physical and cognitive activities until your child has fully recovered.
- Allow for extra time and a quiet location for homework.
- Talk with your child often about feelings of frustration, sadness and isolation as a result of having to limit normal activities.