Whether involved in organized youth sports activities, a St. Petersburg neighborhood game of kickball, or simply playing outside, kids love to play and play hard. All too often, minor scrapes, cuts, and bruises seem par for the course. As kids get more involved with contact sports, however, these accidents can take on a new level of severity. One such injury a parent should never overlook is an injury to a child’s head, such as a concussion.
A concussion, which is a traumatic brain injury, is caused by a bump or a blow to the head, ranging in severity from mild to extreme. Although many concussions are mild, some pose serious, long term threats to a child’s health and well being. What’s tough is that some concussions don’t have outward or obvious symptoms, so a child’s concussion may be a serious injury even without evident immediate physical signs. The best way to help avoid serious, long term problems due to a concussion is through prevention and education and swift, immediate action.
What is a concussion? As mentioned, a concussion is a bump or blow to the head. The tricky thing is that symptoms don’t often show up immediately – some symptoms, if they show up at all, may take weeks to present themselves. Observe your child closely. If your child has received a bump or blow to the head at a Saint Petersburg sporting event, here are some symptoms to watch out for. Disorientation is a major symptom and can manifest as confusion about score, game, opponents, or instructions; as your child being slow to answer questions; or as appearing dazed or confused in general.
If your child is moving clumsily or if your child loses consciousness (even briefly), these could be signs of a concussion. Changes to behavior or mood are also signs of a concussion. Kids will report feeling groggy, dizzy, sluggish, or generally “out of it”; have balance problems; experience dizziness or vision problems; have sensitivity to light and sound; show confusion or “just not feeling right”; have mood changes; experience nausea and vomiting. If your kid reports any of these experiences, these may be signs of a concussion.
What action steps do you take? Seek immediate medical attention and immediately pull your kid from the game. Remember, it’s better to miss one game than the whole season. The brain takes time to heal from injuries, and it’s crucially important that sufficient time be given to healing. If the child gets back into the game too soon, your child risks additional or repeated concussions, which can pose serious lifetime threats – including permanent brain damage.
While the concussion heals, avoiding physical activity and straining mental activity may also help ensure a thorough recovery. A medical professional can determine the severity of the concussion and tell you when it is safe for your child to resume activities. Additionally, when it is time to get back in the game, inform the coach so he or she is aware of the previous injury.
Even in the heat of the game and the height of play, and even if your child, his or her teammates, coaches, or other parents are pressuring your kid to “just shake it off,” parents need to ensure that swift and immediate medical attention is received. And if the situation warrants, contact a personal injury attorney.