Concussion is finally gaining respect as a serious injury. Doctors have begun calling it “mild traumatic brain injury,” which more fully and accurately defines what concussion really is. High schools and high school sports organizations have begun setting more stringent standards for evaluating a student athlete after a head injury–no matter how minor the injury may initially seem to be. And doctors are weighing in with guidelines for when the injured athlete can return to play.
This week, a press release from C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital (part of the University of Michigan Health System) reports on a recent poll, and talks about the next step in recognizing concussions: parents.
According to the article, two-thirds of parents of young athletes worry that their children will get a concussion while playing school sports, but 50% don’t know if their children’s school has a concussion policy. One-third of parents are unaware of the dangers of repeated concussions, which can include permanent brain injury, early dementia, or even death.
Experts believe that a young athlete who suffers a concussion should not return to play for at least two weeks, and some brain injury specialists believe that injured players should sit on the sidelines for three full months to give the brain a chance to heal.
It can be difficult to diagnose a potential concussion on the field. Contrary to popular belief, most concussions do not result in a loss of consciousness…and symptoms may not occur for several hours after the injury. Young athletes may not recognize that they are hurt, or they may be afraid to mention symptoms for fear of losing playing time or of disappointing a coach or a parent.
What parents should know
Parent involvement in guarding against repeat concussions is critical. Any time you suspect that your child has received a head injury, watch for these common signs and symptoms of concussion:
- loss of memory (amnesia)
- a sensation of the world spinning (vertigo)
- lack of awareness of surroundings
- nausea and vomiting
If these symptoms appear after a head injury, consult a medical professional promptly for a full evaluation. Don’t allow a coach to pressure your child into playing before he or she has recovered. When in doubt, talk with a doctor.
For more information, click here: “Concussion in Sports” from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
To read the full C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital press release, click here: “Parents Ill-Prepared to Reduce Kids’ Concussions Risks”