If your child plays contact sports or likes to play a little wildly on the playground, you know accidents and injuries happen. One of these potential injuries is a concussion, which is a type of brain injury that results from a blow to the head. Concussions are often mild in children, but they should always be given the proper time and accommodations in order to properly heal. Here are some signs of a concussion and tips on what you should do if your child has one.
Signs and Symptoms of Concussions
If your child takes a hit to the head, it’s important to check them right away for signs of a concussion and take them to a doctor if they show symptoms. Common initial signs of a concussion include:
– Confusion, difficulty concentrating, or trouble remembering what happened
– One pupil being a different size than the other
– Nausea or vomiting
– Blurred vision, dizziness, ringing in ears
– Grogginess or being in a daze
While concussion symptoms often appear immediately, some symptoms can take hours or days to develop. If your child has difficulty with concentration or memory, dizziness or nausea, fatigue, or headaches in the days following a head injury, take them to be evaluated for a concussion by their primary care provider.
My Child Has a Concussion—What Do I Do?
If your child has a concussion, the most important thing is to protect their brain from further injury. This means that they should avoid any physical activity and wait to return to sports until they are fully recovered. It is also often recommended to ask teachers for extensions on schoolwork because most concussed children have trouble concentrating or get headaches when reading or looking at screens, which can prolong the time it takes to heal. Let your child get plenty of rest for the first few days and keep activities light and calm. If symptoms interfere with an activity, they should stop and wait a few days before trying that activity again.
After about a week, your child can likely return to their regular school and/or work schedules if their symptoms have subsided. However, they should not continue playing sports or taking part in athletic activities until they are evaluated and approved by their physician. Going back to sports too soon can put them at higher risk for a second head injury, which can lead to longer-lasting or permanent brain damage.
While there isn’t a foolproof way to prevent your child from getting a concussion, there are a few things you can do. First, be sure any sports teams they play on follow the rules and regulations put in place to lessen the risk of head injuries. Their coaches should also be trained to spot potential concussions if a head injury does happen in practice or in a game.
You can also make sure your child wears a properly-fitted helmet when biking, skateboarding, rollerblading, and scootering. They should also wear a helmet while skiing and snowboarding. Finally, teaching your child the danger of concussions can help them be aware of their actions and potentially stop them from doing something dangerous they might regret.
If you have more questions about concussions or your child may have one, contact your primary care provider for more information.