Ten Concussion Pearls
What is a concussion?
Concussions can happen at any age, most especially if your child participates in sports. Concussions are typically caused by a blow to the head. Many parents assume that their child doesn’t have a concussion if they have not lost consciousness. It is important to note that significant injury can happen without losing consciousness at all. Concussion symptoms may manifest immediately, sometime after the injury, or recurrently until the brain has recovered. Recognize the signs and symptoms of a concussion, understand how to treat a concussion, and know when it’s time to take your child to the emergency room.
What can the athlete experience during a concussion? Concussion symptoms may include:
- Headache or “pressure” in head
- Nausea or vomiting
- Balance problems or dizziness, or double or blurry vision
- Bothered by light or noise
- Feeling sluggish, hazy, foggy, or groggy
- Confusion, or concentration or memory problems
- Just not “feeling right,” or “feeling down”
What might a bystander (you or the coach) witness in a person with a concussion?
- Can’t recall events prior to or after a hit or fall
- Appears dazed or stunned
- Forgets an instruction, is confused about an assignment or position, or is unsure of the game, score, or opponent
- Moves clumsily
- Answers questions slowly
- Loses consciousness (even briefly)
- Shows mood, behavior, or personality changes
What dangerous signs/symptoms I should be aware of?
If the athlete experiences any of the following concussion symptoms, seek emergent medical attention:
- One pupil larger than the other
- Drowsiness or inability to wake up
- A headache that gets worse and does not go away
- Slurred speech, weakness, numbness, or decreased coordination
- Repeated vomiting or nausea, convulsions or seizures (shaking or twitching)
- Unusual behavior, increased confusion, restlessness, or agitation
- Loss of consciousness (passed out/knocked out). Even a brief loss of consciousness should be taken seriously.
Are there any known lasting complications from concussions?
Yes, although they are extremely rare and typically result from either multiple concussions or a phenomenon called “Second Impact Syndrome”. Second Impact Syndrome refers to death or devastating neurological injury in athletes who sustain a second head injury prior to full recovery from a concussion. Young athletes who return to contact or collision sports while still recovering from a concussion may be at significant risk and should not return to play or engage in other activities that place them at increased risk of head injury (eg, bicycle riding or skateboarding) until fully recovered.
When may the athlete return to sports play after a concussion?
There is stepwise progression all athletes must accomplish before it is considered safe to return to play. It is important for athletes to follow the instructions of their athletic trainer and pediatrician before returning to normal game play.
What about continuing with school?
The athlete doesn’t need to miss school. However, early on, the athlete may require potential adjustments for concussion symptoms in the school setting, such as frequent breaks and limited screen time with computers, smart boards, and videos.
What kind of resources may be available to my child?
Most kids and teens will only need help through informal, academic adjustments as they recover from a concussion. However for kids and teens with ongoing symptoms, a variety of formal support services may be available to help them during their recovery. These support services may vary widely among states and school districts. The type of support will differ based on the needs of each student. Some of these support services may include:
- Response to Intervention Protocol (RTI)
- 504 Plan
- Individualized Education Plan (IEP)
How long will concussion symptoms last?
People generally have a full recovery quickly, although symptoms may last anywhere from days to weeks. However, for 9/10 people, symptoms from a concussion will resolve within 7-10 days.
What can I do at home for my child?
Your child or teen may feel frustrated, sad, and even angry because she or he cannot return to school right away, keep up with schoolwork, or hang out as much with their friends. Talk often with your child or teen about this and offer your support and encouragement.
Take your child to your local emergency room in Corpus Christi if you notice any of the concussion symptoms listed above, whether or not your child lost consciousness. If your child is an athlete, it is essential that you work with your child’s doctor and coach to identify when it is safe for your child to return to play. This involves a stepwise approach coupled with close monitoring for recurrence of symptoms. Questions? Reach out to us at Physicians Premier, your emergency room in Corpus Christi, TX.