Sports concussions are on the rise among young athletes. Parents, coaches and athletes themselves need to know how to prevent concussions, while recognizing the signs when they occur. Here's some great information directly from the Brain Injury Awareness Association of Massachusetts, a nonprofit organization that supports brain injury victims and educates the public on brain injury.
A concussion is a mild brain injury caused by a bump, blow or jolt to the head or body that causes the brain to move rapidly inside the skull. Up to 3.8 million sports- and recreation-related concussions occur in the United States each year, with more than 60,000 concussions occurring annually in high school athletics alone.
Before your child gets involved in spring sports this year, learn the signs of concussion and what to expect if your child sustains one.
Signs of Concussion include:
• Memory loss
• Dizziness or ‘seeing stars’
• Ringing in the ears
• Nausea or vomiting
• Slurred speech
• Loss of consciousness
If your child sustains a concussion:
• Pull your child out of play even if you only suspect a concussion. Although many individuals believe a person needs to lose consciousness to have a brain injury, that is not necessarily the case. Make sure he or she is checked out by a medical professional so a concussion can be ruled out.
• As your child recovers, keep in mind that every concussion is different and recovery time depends on the injury and individual. An individual who sustains a concussion may experience such side effects as irritability and mood changes, fatigue, sensitivity to light and sound, memory issues and trouble concentrating, and problems sleeping. Be understanding of these issues and help make adjustments to your home if necessary.
• Talk with your child’s doctor about when he or she can return to school. Speak with school administrators, guidance counselors and teachers if your child will be out of school for a significant period of time and let them know what to expect when he or she returns. Your child may need more time for exams, breaks during the day in a quiet, dark space or shorter school days while recovering.
• Make sure your child gets plenty of rest and avoids continual use of computers, video games and other stimulating electronics during recovery.
• Do not permit your child to return to sports or other activities which may cause another injury until he or she has been cleared by a doctor. Second Impact Syndrome (SIS) occurs when a person who has sustained a concussion returns to play too soon and suffers a minor blow or hit which causes the brain to rebound inside the skull. SIS can cause permanent damage or even death.
For more safety tips or facts about helmets, visit www.biama.org or call the Brain Injury Association of Massachusetts.