A concussion is a type of mild traumatic brain injury caused by a hit or blow to the head or body. The injury causes the brain to move around, which can create chemical changes and damage brain cells.
The result is a concussion, which describes any brief loss of normal brain function caused by an injury.
A concussion is a common type of sports injury. It can also happen after a fall or car crash.
There are a few things you should know about concussions to help prevent your child from experiencing one.
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What Is A Concussion?
The definition of a concussion is a traumatic brain injury, also known as a TBI, due to a bump, blow or jolt to the head or by a hit to the body that causes the head and brain to be jolted back and forth.
The fast movement can jar the brain around in the skull, which in turn creates physical and chemical changes in the brain.
Someone with a concussion may also be tired, confused, dazed or forgetful. A concussion can also cause someone to lose consciousness or pass out.
Go to the ER immediately if you or your child experiences any of these symptoms:
- One eye pupil larger than the other
- Repeated vomiting
- Extreme drowsiness or inability to wake up
- A headache that gets worse and does not go away
- Slurred speech or a decrease in coordination
- Uncontrollable shaking or seizures
- Unusual behavior like increased confusion, anger or forgetfulness
- Loss of consciousness, even if brief
Keep in mind that concussion symptoms may not appear right away. It can take hours, days or weeks for symptoms to show up.
Even if you feel fine right after the injury, you should continue to check for signs of concussion a few days after the injury.
What Are the Symptoms?
Each case will result in different symptoms; however, there are a few telltale signs that you or your child has suffered a concussion.
By knowing the symptoms, you can treat you or your child quickly, preventing any further damage to their health. Symptoms can be immediately apparent for some, others may not even notice symptoms.
Typically, symptoms will last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks or, in some cases, even longer.
If someone is experiencing any of the following symptoms, treatment should be sought.
- Headache or a feeling of pressure in the head
- Temporary loss of consciousness
- Confusion or feeling as if in a fog
- Amnesia surrounding the traumatic event
- Ringing in the ears
- Difficulty Speaking
- Unable to wake up
- Blood or clear fluid draining from ears or nose
- Unequal pupil size
- Abnormal eye movement
- Repeated vomiting
How Do You Know If You Have A Concussion?
The effects of a concussion, even a mild one, can be serious. If you are concerned that you or your child has suffered a concussion, it’s important to contact a healthcare provider right away.
Only a healthcare provider can determine whether it’s a concussion. To diagnose a concussion, the provider will ask questions about the injury and test mental skills, like attention, learning, memory and problem-solving.
The provider may also order imaging tests, like a CT scan or MRI.
Some concussion symptoms may get worse. If you see any of the following, take your child to the ER immediately:
- One pupil larger than the other
- Cannot be woken up
- Prolonged, severe headache
- Decreased coordination
- Repeated vomiting
- Slurred speech
- Problems recognizing family and friends
- Unusual behavior or personality changes
Preventative Measures: Kid's Sports
While it’s impossible to 100% prevent a concussion from occurring, you can greatly reduce your child’s chances of getting injured.
Your first priority should be to protect your child from injury without withdrawing them from their favorite activity or sport.
- Create safe environments
- Talk to coaches and school faculty about safety measures they take to prevent students from injuring themselves.
- Check that playing fields are flat and free from obstacles or pits that could trip a player.
- Make sure playgrounds are surfaced with shock-absorbing material.
- Ask if students are supervised during outdoor play.
- Monitor your child’s health
- Ask them how they feel after each practice and game, making sure they understand that their health is a higher priority than winning a match.
- Prepare a concussion action plan
It’s best if concussions are caught early and managed properly.
Ask your child’s school about their concussion policy, which may include:
- Removing the athlete from play
- Giving them immediate medical care
- Alerting parents or guardians if they aren’t present
- Keeping them on the bench until a healthcare professional ok’s their return
Diagnosing and Treatment
In order to properly diagnose a concussion, the doctor will need to know details of the injury. They may also ask patients basic questions in an effort to test his or her consciousness, memory and concentration.
The doctor will also likely perform a physical exam, focusing on balance, coordination, nerve function and reflexes.
If your child has suffered a concussion, there are a few things you can do to help him or her recover quickly:
- Require your child to physically rest:
Although it may be the last thing he or she wants to do, it’s imperative your child takes a break from sports or physical activities after suffering a concussion.
In an effort to reduce stress on the brain and decrease the chance of re-injuring the head, the only thing your child should participate in is day-to-day living.
- Make your child rest mentally also:
In addition to your child taking a physical break from activities, he or she should also rest mentally. Devices like computers, cellphones and other devices should be avoided completely.
Your child should also stay away from watching TV or playing video games.
- Eat well and stay hydrated:
One of the best ways to help your child recover is to ensure her or she is drinking plenty of non-caffeinated beverages.
Water, Gatorade, etc. will all help keep your child hydrated. It’s also important that your child eat well so he or she can have the strength and energy to make a full recovery.
Recovery After A Concussion
Once all symptoms have subsided completely, you or your child can slowly return to pre-concussion activities. Even if your child says they feel better, it’s important that their thinking, behavior and/or balance are also back to normal.
Your child’s doctor can assess their recovery to ensure they are healthy enough to return to normal activities. The doctor may also suggest ibuprofen or acetaminophen to help with pain. (This medication must be free of aspirin.)
It’s not unusual for children to try and convince parents they feel OK so they can get back to their favorite activities, but this puts them at risk of a condition called second-impact syndrome.
Although very rare, second-impact syndrome can cause long-term brain damage and, in some instances, death.
CareNow® Urgent Care Can Provide X-Ray Exams
If you believe you or your child is suffering a medical emergency with symptoms such as an inability to wake up, seizures, or repeated vomiting, dial 911 and go to the nearest emergency room immediately.
Even if there are no obvious life threatening symptoms, a medical professional should observe your child as soon as possible to determine the severity of the concussion.
CareNow® is ready to assist you 7 days a week with extended hours to evaluate minor injuries.
If you require a higher level of care, we can help facilitate your transfer to an ER or a schedule a follow-up with a specialized physician.
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Disclaimer: Patients’ health can vary. Always consult with a medical professional before taking medication, making health-related decisions or deciding if medical advice is right for you.