Recognizing a Concussion

Posted on May 26 2012 at 06:14:07 PM in Sports & Recreation

While playing at recess last year, my then 8 year old fell and hit the back of his head on the playground. He went to the nurse, she didn't think he was hurt badly enough to be sent home but she did call to let me know what happened. When I picked him up after school he said his head hurt and he didn't even want to go to his friend's house to play. He didn't have any of the serious symptoms, his eyes weren't dilated, he wasn't dizzy, he didn't pass out or vomit but his stomach was a bit upset. When his head still hurt the next day I took him to the doctor. Fortunately he was ok but he did have a mild concussion. The fact that he didn't display any of the obvious signs that accompany a concussion prompted me to review how to recognize and treat them. And, having two wildly active boys, I figure I better brush up on the info.

Some of the signs are really not all that glaring. Even a seemingly mild bump or blow can be serious because a concussion changes normal cell function in the brain. Activities should not be resumed too quickly because if a second concussion is suffered before the first one completely heals, it could result in the potentially fatal second impact syndrome. Even mild trauma makes the brain more susceptible to to being injured again.

They are fairly common, over 3 million concussions occur each year in the U.S. due to recreation and sports related accidents. With proper and immediate treatment most people are fine but repeated head injuries can result in permanent brain damage. Symptoms and signs may show up right away but they could take hours or even days to fully appear and they can last for days, weeks or longer.

Medical experts advise seeking emergency care when any of the following signs or symptoms are present in an individual: Appears dazed or stunned, is confused about assignment or position, forgets sports plays, is unsure of game, score, or opponent, 
moves clumsily, answers questions slowly, loses consciousness (even briefly), 
shows behavior or personality changes, can't recall events prior to hit or fall, 
dilated eyes or one pupil is larger than the other, has a headache or pressure in head, nausea or vomiting, balance problems or dizziness, double or blurry vision, 
sensitivity to light or noise, drowsiness or fatigue, feeling hazy, foggy or groggy
concentration or memory problems, confusion, anxiety, combativeness, and mood swings or does not feel right.

Do not give any medication for a minimum of 24 hours as this can cause brain bleed and mask symptoms. If symptomsworsen or if different symptoms present themselves after the patient has been treated and sent home, go back to the doctor or ER right away.

Because they can't communicate as well, signs can be difficult to recognize in babies and toddlers. They may include: Listlessness, tiring easily, irritability, crankiness, 
change in eating or sleeping patterns, lack of interest in favorite toys, 
loss of balance, unsteady walking.

Too often I see kids riding their bikes, scooters and skateboards without a helmet. It's not smart, they need the protection to avoid a major head trauma. Besides, it's illegal to ride a bike without a helmet under certain ages in 21 states, includingCalifornia. Wearing a helmet may not look "cool" but how cool does laying in a vegetative state in some hospital drooling out of the side of your mouth sound? Pass this along to anyone you know who has kids, it's information all parents should be familiar with.




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Created: May 26 2012 at 06:14:07 PM
Updated: May 26 2012 at 06:14:07 PM
Language: English