Studies show that as many as 8 out of 10 concussions are not recognized at first. What signs should you look for?
A concussion is a brain injury, often caused by a blow to the head, that affects normal brain activities such as thinking, memory, problem solving, vision, balance and many other activities. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates as many as 3.8 million sports and recreation related concussions occur each year in the United States.
"You can't always see a concussion," said Lisa Kluchurosky, MEd, ATC, member of the Ohio Chapter, American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Home and School Health Committee which recently produced Sports Shorts, guidelines for parents and athletes on concussions. "Sometimes you see the signs and symptoms immediately, and sometimes they show up days or weeks after the injury," she continues.
Studies show that as many as 8 out of 10 concussions are not recognized at first, and young people who have a first concussion are at five times the risk of having a second concussion.
"Loss of consciousness, or passing out, only happens in maybe 2 out of every 10 or fewer concussions," said Kluchurosky. "Many people think they can only have a concussion when they lose consciousness, but that is not true."
What are the signs and symptoms of a concussion observed by parents?
Headache Feeling slowed down or mentally foggy Sensitivity to light or noise Dizziness or balance problems Memory problems Tired, easily fatigued or difficulty sleeping Double or blurry vision Nausea or vomiting More emotional or irritable -- argues or laughs excessively, cries easily. If you think your child has suffered a concussion, take them to their pediatrician, primary care physician or sports medicine clinic right away. A doctor will be able to decide how serious the concussion is, and when it is safe for your child to return to normal activity.
"Any child who suffers a concussion and still has any symptoms, even if they seem mild, should NEVER be allowed to return to activity," said Kluchurosky, program manager for Nationwide Children's Hospital Sports Medicine.
Concussions are treated by physical and mental rest. Physical rest includes rest from all sports and activities with exertion. Mental rest includes rest from loud activities, such as listening to headphones, dances or parties, as well as rest from playing video games, bright sunlight, driving, alcohol, drugs and standardized tests at school.
For more information on concussions, visit the Ohio AAP website and download the Sports Shorts on Concussions at www.ohioaap.org/files/Sports_Shorts_Concussions.pdf.