There has been a lot of media attention lately on concussions, and as a parent it may have you wondering if contact sports are worth the risk for your kids. There’s no right or wrong answer to that question but whatever you decide, learn about the signs and risks of concussions.
Most concussions occur when the head receives a sudden jolt or blow when playing a contact sport like football, soccer, basketball and even baseball, or from falls or accidents. Concussions cause the brain to move back and forth within the skull resulting in an injury, sometimes even bleeding within the brain.
“The movement causes nerves in the brain to swell and that swelling leads to a short-circuiting for lack of a better term,” said Dr. Daniel Tailleur, Emergency Department Physician at Prowers Medical Center.
Swelling then leads to other symptoms, including confusion, excessive emotions, headaches, blurry vision, dizziness, tiredness, difficulty thinking clearly, vomiting, and even loss of consciousness.
“It used to be thought that all concussions involved losing consciousness, but that’s been shown not to be the case,” Dr. Tailleur said.
Maybe you’ve heard of CTE, or chronic traumatic encephalopathy, made famous by NFL players having chronic problems, even after quitting the sport. CTE damages brain tissue after experiencing repeated head trauma (concussions). It’s not terribly common. However, don’t take that as a message that concussions are not serious. Repeated concussions can lead to ongoing symptoms including headaches, sensitivity to light, dizziness or even seizures for weeks or months.
“Concussions should never be taken lightly. If you or your child’s coach suspect a concussion during a game it’s best to be safe and pull them out. A mild injury can get better in a few weeks but if they continue to play and take another blow to the head they could be out for months causing them to miss the whole season rather than just a few games,” Dr. Tailleur said.
With concussions, the first course of action is often stopping the activity and resting while others watch for signs, making sure the child is okay through the night. With rest, most young people recover completely in a week or two from a mild concussion.
“If you suspect a concussion, bring your child to the emergency department. We’ll follow protocols to assess the situation, complete a CT scan if needed, and get you headed in the right direction for specialty care if required,” Dr. Tailleur said.
Talk to your kids about the signs and symptoms of a concussion so they are more apt to recognize one. Encourage them to report a suspected concussion, even if it means sitting out the rest of the game. Also, make sure equipment—pads and helmets—fit well and are of good quality. If you have questions, talk with your doctor or PMC’s certified athletic trainer present at most college and high school games in Lamar.
“When given the time to heal, the brain can heal fairly quickly. Time is what’s needed with concussions,” Dr. Tailleur concluded.