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A concussion is not just a bump on the head-- it’s actually a kind of traumatic brain injury (TBI). Each year, U.S. emergency departments treat nearly 175,000 children and teens for sports-related TBIs, including concussions.
Concussions aren’t just caused by playing football. The activities that cause the greatest number of TBI-related emergency department visits include football, bicycling, basketball and soccer. In children under the age of 10, playground injuries are one of the leading causes of recreation-related TBIs in children. Bottom line: be alert for concussions no matter what sport or recreational activity your child is involved in.
Young children, teenagers and young adults are especially at risk because their brains are still developing. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a concussion can occur from a fall or blow to the head or body that causes the head and brain to move quickly back and forth. This jostling can damage the brain. A concussion can occur without loss of consciousness. Signs of a concussion can be subtle, so you may not notice them if you’re not looking for them. Additionally, kids may not report their symptoms. Be alert to new symptoms or changes in behavior, as some symptoms show up right away and others might not show up for a few days.
Here are some more subtle signs a young athlete may have a concussion:
When to Contact a DoctorWhenever a concussion is suspected, the athlete should be immediately evaluated by a doctor. Some warning signs that warrant immediate medical help include:
Remember, head injuries may also be accompanied by injuries to other parts of the body, including the neck or spine.
Recovery TimeAn athlete who returns to the game while still suffering symptoms is at risk for serious, permanent brain damage. According to research, kids recover from concussions slower than adults, so crucial that kids be symptom-free and cleared by a doctor before restarting any activity.Following a concussion, young athletes may also need to ease back into sports gradually, working up to full speed and full contact. Rest can help the brain heal. Check with your doctor for specific recommendations related to activity limitations following a concussion and how and when to return to regular activities. They may recommend time away from practice, games and exercise. Your child may need to ease back into school and might need extra time with tests and schoolwork.
Lower the Risk of a ConcussionThere is no sure-fire way to prevent a concussion. But there are steps you can take to lower your young athlete’s risk for one.
Of course, it's not only about having a helmet that will help to protect your child, but also about using and finding a properly fitted and effective helmet for the sport in question. Not sure where to start? The CDC has some really helpful information in this fact sheet! Check it out...print it out...give it to your friends!
How did you care for your child when they experienced a concussion? Share your story below in the comments!
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