Play is a huge part of a child’s life – whether it is at the community park, on the school playground, at a neighbor’s backyard, or in a team sport. Unfortunately, recreation also carries the risk of injury due to falls, collisions and physical contact. Concussions are the most commonly diagnosed high school sports-related injury but they are not limited to adolescents. A child of any age can sustain a concussion during informal play or in contact sports such as football, basketball, hockey, gymnastics, field hockey and even cheerleading.
A concussion is not just a bump on the head. A concussion involves a trauma to the brain. It’s a mild traumatic brain injury. The normal functioning of the brain is immediately and temporarily disrupted when a concussion occurs. Some of the initial warning signs of a possible concussion that coaches or parents may notice are when the youth appears dazed, forgets plays, loses balance, appears awkward or becomes confused. A brief loss of consciousness or inability to remember what happened just before the fall or collision are other significant indicators of a possible concussion.
It is important for the youth to be examined by a physician when any combination of these symptoms are observed. Any youth who is being examined for a possible concussion should be immediately taken out of practice and closely monitored. It is important to observe the youth over time as well. Athletic and recreational staff, as well as parents, school nurses, and educators should monitor the youth over the following weeks for further symptoms of concussion including dizziness, grogginess, headaches, nausea, difficulty with memory, problems with concentration, and confusion. The effects of a concussion can follow the youth from the play into the classroom making it difficult to keep up with school work. While most symptoms of concussion clear quickly, some children and youth will show late signs of concussion that emerge over time. These later symptoms include persistent headache, irritability, ringing in the ears, lightheadedness, blurry vision, anxiety, poor attention, restlessness, depressed mood, memory problems, and fatigue.
Any combination of these changes can make it difficult for the student to function in school, complete homework, and keep up with peers. If any of these warning signs or symptoms continue after the student returns to class, it is important for school staff to develop a plan to reduce the student’s workload. The brain needs time to rest and heal after a concussion.
Any severity of traumatic brain injury calls for informed care and coping. Further, every brain injury is different. The causes and consequences of brain injury are different for children, adolescents, adults and veterans. Lash and Associates Publishing have produced specific books, tip cards, manuals and tool kits aimed to help anyone looking for resources on brain injury. For more information about concussions in children and youth, visit Lash and Associates Publishing/Training, Inc. at http://www.lapublishing.com/traumatic-brain-injury-concussion/
Written By: TheeDesign Studio
Geoff Jones c/o Lash & Assoc.