Pediatrics Sports Medicine

Symptoms of a Concussion

March 21, 2019

Symptoms of a Concussion

As I watched my 8-year-old put on his very first football helmet, all I could think of is, “football has the highest rate of concussions….” As his mom, I am worried (once again), but I also know that he loves football.  He knows all the teams and the players.  We live in Nebraska.  Who am I kidding??  Football is a passion for any little kid in Nebraska.

Don’t Shake Off a Concussion

I don’t mean to pick on football.  It is a fact that it has the highest rate of concussions, but your kid could get a concussion participating in virtually any activity.  Concussions (or traumatic brain injury—TBI) can happen with a blow/jolt to the head.  You don’t have to get knocked out to have a concussion.  In the old days, if you got “rattled” you’d rest a little bit and then get back to your game.  Things have changed.  We realize that there is more to consider.

How Should You Handle a Head Injury?

If your child hits his or her head, whether it is an organized sport or not, note a few things:

  1. Some have no symptoms initially, keep an eye on him/her.  Visit the ER if they develop a severe or worsening headache, repeated vomiting, seizure activity, unsteady gait or slurred speech.
  2. Signs can be subtle like a headache, confusion, irritability, drowsiness, blurry vision, and others.
  3. Let them know that after they hit their head, it is important to let a parent/coach know (so you can watch for symptoms).

Organized sports teams are very aware of watching kids after head injuries and limiting their return to play, but as parents, we have to watch for these signs at home, too.

What Should You Do if Your Child Gets a Concussion?

If you are worried that your child has suffered a concussion, whether it was from experimenting with a new gymnastics move at home, getting tackled at football practice or boxing with their brother in the basement, make a visit to your pediatrician. Sometimes we may have to limit school activities (both physical and mental), in order to let the injured brain rest. We can also help guide decisions for returning to the activity in the future and limit repeated concussions (which can lead to permanent damage).

Original post date: Aug, 2014. Revised: March, 2019

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