Managing Your Child’s Concussion
As you cheer on your child for another season of football or cheerleading, know the risks that threaten their safety on the field. Every three minutes, a child visits the emergency room for a sports-related concussion. But there’s a lot you can do as a parent to help protect your child, and it all starts with learning more about this type of injury.
“A concussion is defined as a brain injury caused by a bump or blow to the head that causes the brain to move rapidly within the skull,” said Christine McKeever, a trauma program nurse educator at Abington Memorial Hospital.
Your child isn’t only at risk when he’s playing football—it can also happen as the result of a car accident, a fight, or even from accidentally bumping into another student in the hallway. The most troubling aspect of a concussion is that it can be difficult to recognize since it’s not something that can be seen. So what should you look for if you suspect your child has a concussion?
“There are many signs, but they typically include headache, amnesia, nausea/vomiting, balance problems, sensitivity to light and/or noise, and feeling mentally foggy or slowed down,” said McKeever. “Whether or not your child loses consciousness, he should seek medical attention after any head injury.” Symptoms might also include difficulty concentrating, memory loss, irritability, fatigue and generally abnormal behavior.
While kids aren’t the only ones susceptible to concussions, their developing brain leaves them more at risk for trauma than adults. “Multiple concussions at an earlier age also put them at risk for “stacking up” concussions, or second impact syndrome, which causes brain swelling that could possibly lead to death,” said McKeever.
While concussions are common – even the NFL struggles greatly with the issue – each one that occurs causes some degree of injury to the brain. Even though it needs time to properly rest in order to heal, most people usually fully recover.
If your child has been diagnosed with a concussion, it’s important that he rests from both physical and mental activities. Yes, even thinking too much can make symptoms worse and cause further brain damage. While it may take several days to heal completely, not waiting long enough can put him at risk for another concussion, which can extend symptoms and cause further brain damage.
To best protect your son or daughter, it’s important for all parents to understand the signs and symptoms of concussions and to stick to the treatment plan. You should also report a concussion as soon as possible to ensure that your child gets the medical attention he needs. At the end of the day, missing a game isn’t as severe as a concussion left untreated.