What you need to know about children's concussions

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For more information about the Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital Concussion Clinic or to make an appointment, visit www.jdch.com/concussions.

If your child suffered a nasty fall, blow to the head, or collided with another athlete at practice, there’s a chance of concussion. As a parent, it’s crucial that you keep an eye out for signs and symptoms of this mild traumatic brain injury, and that you get your kiddo medical attention, stat.

What are the signs of a concussion?

A lot of concussion side effects don’t show up until way after the injury. So, be on the lookout for the following symptoms in the hours following the incident:

  • A headache or pressure in the head
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Problems with balance or coordination
  • Dizziness or blurry vision
  • Bothered by light or noise
  • Feeling sluggish or groggy
  • Confusion or memory problems
  • Mood or personality changes
  • Just feeling “off”

What can you do to prevent concussions?

The only way to prevent sports-related concussions entirely is to stop playingbut where’s the fun in that? Don’t worry—there are precautions you can take to lower your risk of head injuries.

  • A stronger neck could be the key to concussion prevention. Research from the Journal of Primary Prevention shows that for every one-pound increase in neck strength, the odds of concussion decreased by five percent.
  • Have your child participate in baseline testing, which is a compilation of tests used to assess an athlete’s balance and brain function. The CDC recommends having this done every two years.
  • Make sure your child’s equipment fits properly. While no helmet, mouth guard, or neck brace is concussion-proof, a helmet that stays on the head is going to protect better than one that falls off when running. Give your child’s equipment a once-over to make sure no pieces are missing, no parts are loose, and everything is snug.

What kind of doctor treats concussions?

When your child has signs or symptoms of a concussion, your healthcare professional will formally diagnose the concussion by giving a full neurological examination, they may undergo neurological testing within the office, and they’ll start a process that allows your kid to return to learning and sports.

During the first three to five days after the injury, your child should refrain from all cognitive activities, such as watching television, texting, playing video games, and reading. Once you have the go-ahead from your doctor, your child can return to a moderate amount of school activities, like homework. As for athletics, it may take up to a week or two before they may return to light-to-moderate, non-risk, non-contact sports activities (like walking or a stationary bicycle) as directed by their doctor.

It’s important to make an appointment with a pediatric sports or concussions specialist, like the experts at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital Concussion Clinic, within the first 24 to 48 hours—that’s the critical timeframe for doctors to make interventions that change the trajectory of recovery, so they can get your athlete back into action, faster.

For more information about the Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital Concussion Clinic or to make an appointment, visit www.jdch.com/concussions or call 954-538-5566.