Most parents, especially those with active children, believe that the benefits of sports and consistent activity far outweigh the risks. School sports can teach children leadership skills, team participation and make them more engaged in school. However, parents of active children and teenagers should always be sensitive to the potential for injury, especially concussions or other traumatic brain injuries.
Read on for the top five things about concussions we believe every parent should know.
It’s not just football.
When people think about concussions, the first thing that comes to mind is often football. And while it is true that concussions occur most often in football, sports like hockey, girl’s soccer, girl’s basketball and lacrosse all follow closely behind. In fact, studies show that girls playing high school soccer suffer concussions 68 percent more often then their male counterparts. So be sure to keep an eye out for concussion symptoms in your children, no matter their gender or chosen sport.
Concussions can have varying symptoms.
Dizziness, headaches and nausea are some of the most common concussion symptoms. Some coaches or parents ask their children how they are feeling before they seek medical attention. But your child may not be able to accurately report how he or she is feeling. If your child isn't reporting any symptoms but is moving listlessly or has problems balancing, you should talk to a medical professional.
“Mental rest” doesn’t just refer to homework.
After children are diagnosed with concussion, they are often placed on mental rest. Because concussion impacts your child’s cognitive function, engaging in activities that require a large amount of thinking or mental work may make his or her concussion symptoms worse. However, cognitive rest doesn’t just refer to school-work or exercise. It is best to stay away from large amounts of reading, computers, television, chores, social visits or trips. Your child should focus on rest, sleep and recovering.
Children should stop playing immediately after a hit to the head.
In one 2015 survey, almost 50 percent of parents and coaches said they would allow children to get right back in the game or wait out for 15 minutes and then return to play. However, doctors recommend that, after any head hit, players not return to play until after being seen by a doctor. Without the right care, concussion symptoms can last weeks or months.
There are ways to reduce the risk of concussion.
Concussion most often happens by accident, and there is nothing to be done to prevent it. However, there are ways to limit your family’s risk. For example, your family should always wear seatbelts when riding in the car. Even if only riding or playing casually around your neighborhood, your children should be wearing the proper protective gear (i.e, helmets for biking and skating).
It can be incredibly difficult to diagnose concussion without talking to a doctor first. That is why, as we move back into school sports season, we recommend that you contact a medical professional at the first sign of concussion. If you have a student athlete who has recently suffered an injury, visit our Saturday Morning Sports Clinic at Orthopedic Institute.