Your frequent questions answered by the experts at Nationwide Children's Hospital
Q: Our son was a passenger in a car when it was hit.He wasn't knocked unconscious but he did sustain a concussion and whiplash.He seems to have recovered well, but what sort of long-term effects might there be and is there anything we should be on the lookout for? A: Many people associate concussions with sports, but it's not uncommon to sustain a concussion in a car accident, as you have mentioned. With proper medical attention and physical and mental rest, most children will make a full recovery from a concussion within a few weeks and almost all within a few months. Unfortunately, some kids suffer from prolonged symptoms beyond this period, which is known as post-concussive syndrome. Post-concussive syndrome can last for months, or occasionally even years, after someone has suffered a concussion. Symptoms of this include headaches, dizziness, impaired sleep, emotional problems and trouble concentrating and remembering. If your son has already made a full recovery, it is very unlikely that he will develop any of these problems at this point. The risk of post-concussive symptoms seems to be higher in those that have experienced multiple concussions. Also, there is often underlying anxiety or depression in patients that suffer from this syndrome. Studies of professional athletes suggest that there may be long-term problems such as cognitive dysfunction, depression and early-onset dementia later in life in those that have suffered multiple concussions, but again your son would appear to be at little risk for this. Be sure to consult your primary care physician with questions specific to your son's condition, especially if you suspect he is still experiencing lingering symptoms. -Dr. Steven Cuff is a member of the Nationwide Children's Sports Medicine team and is board certified in pediatrics and sports medicine.