7 Things To Know About Concussions

Active play is super important (both for growing bodies and fully grown ones!) and kids endure periodic bumps, bruises, or twisted ankles; whether at the playground, on the playing field, or in your own backyard. Both Laurel and Violet are playing soccer this fall, and sports-related injuries have very much been on my mind now that Laurel is now playing high school soccer, and the game is so much faster and more physical than it was in recreational town soccer.

Specifically, concussions have been on my mind. Laurel was required to do a concussion baseline evaluation at the start of the season, and a friend/teammate of Laurel's recently was evaluated for a concussion after a game collision. I’m subsequently super grateful that as part of an ongoing editorial partnership with Floating Hospital for Children at Tufts Medical Center, Chief of Pediatric Neurology Dr. John Gaitanis took the time to share important information about concussions. Check out this Q&A for 7 things to know about concussions.

1. Why is there so much chatter about concussions these days?

Concussions have always occurred, but recent research tells us there’s a lot we don’t know about them. For example, even though most concussions fully recover, repeated concussions aren’t always benign and can result in permanent injury. As we learn more, we want to be hyper aware of concussions.

2. Who is at highest risk for sustaining a concussion?

Overall, the risk increases with the level of play. But that doesn’t mean young kids don’t get concussions. Younger children have softer brains and reduced neck strength compared to older children—factors that increase the risk of concussion in younger athletes. Fast-paced contact sports—like football, hockey, and soccer—have higher risk than slower paced non-contact sports, like baseball and softball.

3. Are there differences in risk for boys vs. girls?

Surprisingly, girls are at a higher risk for concussion than boys of the same age, in the same sports. Doctors and researchers believe this might be because girls have less neck strength than boys, so they do not sustain the impact as well.

4. What happens if my child gets a concussion?

A concussion occurs when a person gets hit on the head—or hits their head—hard enough that their brain moves within their skull. As a result, the brain has a hard time keeping up with the all the demands our bodies place on it, which results in concussion symptoms.

5. What are the symptoms of a concussion?

Immediately after impact, your child might experience:

  • Headache

  • Confusion

  • Memory Loss

  • Unstable gait/walking

  • Difficulty focusing vision

  • Loss of consciousness (not necessary for it to be a concussion)

If your child doesn’t have those immediate symptoms, but they occur within a day or so, they still “count” as concussion symptoms.

6. When should I bring my child to the doctor?

If your child has any combination of the above symptoms, see a doctor. If you have any question about whether or not they should be evaluated, a call to your pediatrician is always the right choice. If your child didn’t see a doctor following an injury but is having ongoing symptoms like a headache, it’s still worth seeing a doctor. It’s really never too late.

7. How soon after a concussion can my child go back to their regular activities?

After a concussion diagnosis, your doctor will likely prescribe physical and mental rest. This will allow your child’s brain to keep up with its energy demands and recover sooner. “Rest” consists of taking a break from sports and limiting physical activity, as well as limiting mental activity—like video games, homework, watching TV, texting, or reading—as all of these activities may worsen symptoms and make it harder to recover. Once the symptoms are gone or have decreased, your child’s pediatrician will help you slowly reintroduce activities.

To learn more about Floating Hospital for Children at Tufts Medical Center visit www.floatinghospital.org/strong.

 Disclaimer: The content provided in this email is intended solely for the information of the reader. This information is not medical advice and should not replace a consultation with a medical professional.

Disclosure: This post reflects a compensated editorial partnership with Tufts Medical Center. All personal commentary about concussions is, of course, my own.

7 things to know about concussions

7 things to know about concussions