What is a concussion?
Other terms for a concussion include “head injury” and “mild traumatic brain injury.” A concussion usually is caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head. In most cases, children hit their heads without getting a concussion. That is because the brain is protected by the skull which is a very hard covering made of bone that works like a helmet. But if the head is hit hard enough, the brain can be shaken around inside the skull causing a concussion. Common causes of a concussion are car or ATV crashes, falls from bikes and skateboards, and sports-related accidents.
If a suspected concussion happens during a sporting event or practice the student athlete must be immediately removed from the activity. Youth athletes who have been taken out of a game because of a suspected concussion are not allowed to return to play until after:
- being evaluated by a health care provider with specific training in the evaluation and management of concussions and
- receiving written clearance to return to play from that health care provider.
What happens after a concussion?
After a concussion, less than 10 percent of children lose consciousness or are “knocked out” for a short time. A child can have a concussion without losing consciousness. Most children don’t feel well for a while after a concussion but recover quickly. However, every child is different and some take longer to get better than others. Common problems (symptoms) you may notice in your child after a concussion are listed below. It is important to remember that the symptoms are a normal part of recovery and usually go away on their own. If you notice any of these symptoms, you should talk with your child’s doctor to find out whether any treatment is necessary.
· Fatigue, seeming tired, trouble staying awake
· Trouble sleeping
· Lack of energy, slow-moving
· Blurry or double vision
· Sensitivity to noise or light
· Dizziness, feeling lightheaded
· Not remembering how the concussion happened
· Becoming easily confused
· Slowness in thinking, seeming “foggy” or “zoned out”
· Difficulty paying attention
· Forgetfulness, memory problems
· More difficulty at school than normal
Emotional and Behavioral
· Becoming easily annoyed or angry, seeming cranky and irritable
· Feeling worried or nervous
· Seeming emotional, crying more easily than normal
· Not seeming like himself/herself, personality changes
What should I do if I think my child has had a concussion?
Seek medical attention right away. A healthcare professional experienced in concussion management can determine how serious the concussion is, if any medical treatment is needed, and when it’s safe for your child to return to school and physical activities including sports.
Be alert for symptoms that worsen.
In the first 1-2 days after the injury, you should watch your child very carefully. You should get immediate medical help if your child:
· Loses consciousness
· Is extremely sleepy or drowsy and can’t be awakened
· Vomits repeatedly
· Gets a headache that worsens, lasts for a long time, or is severe
· Has weakness, numbness, trouble walking, or decreased coordination
· Has difficulty recognizing familiar people
· Is very confused
· Has trouble talking or slurred speech
· Has a seizure (arms or legs shake uncontrollably)
· Cries nonstop and cannot be comforted
· Has any other sudden or unusual change in thinking or behavior
What about school?
1. Ask your child’s doctor when it will be okay for your child to go back to school and have them provide written instructions for the school.
2. Tell your child’s school team (teachers, guidance counselor, nurse, principal, coach) about the concussion even if it happened over the summer. Be sure to share any recommendations you have received from your child’s medical team.taken from Concussion Fact Sheet Children's St. Louis