What Every Parent Needs to Know About Concussions

Prevention, Treatment and Symptoms of Concussions

Schoolboys wearing protective headgear
Two teenage schoolboys wearing protective headgear. Cultura RM/Nancy Honey

As teenagers grow older, their sports and recreation activities get a little more rough. Since they are at an age where risk taking behavior is the norm and growth spurts can make them a bit clumsy, injuries tend to occur more often than with adults.

Quite frequently, they'll hit their head or crash into something with their body. Both of these types of incidents can cause a concussion.

If this describes your teen, you're not alone.

From 2001 to 2005, there were an estimated 207,830 emergency department visits for concussions, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Of other traumatic brain injuries related to sports  that were reported to the CDC annually, 65 percent were among children age 5 to 18.

Facts About Concussions

  • You do not need to be knocked out to have a concussion.
  • There is no set number of symptoms that automatically indicates a concussion.
  • If your teenager is showing signs of any symptoms, take them to a health care professional.
  • Sometimes severe symptoms can take hours or days to show up.
  • Indirect blows such as a 'body slam' in hockey can cause jarring of the brain in the head and result in a concussion.

Symptoms of Concussions

  • Uneven dilated pupils
  • Headache
  • Feeling sick or vomiting
  • Blurred vision
  • Poor coordination or balance
  • Slurred speech
  • Slow to answer questions or follow directions
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety and depressed mood

Concussion Categories

Grade 1: A mild concussion occurs when the person does not lose consciousness, but seems dazed.

Grade 2: A slightly more severe form of concussion occurs when the person does not lose consciousness, but has a period of confusion and does not recall the event.

Grade 3: The classic concussion is the most severe form.

It occurs when the person loses consciousness for a brief period of time and has no memory of the event. Evaluation from a health-care provider should be performed immediately.

Treatment for Concussions

In most cases a person will recover from a concussion within a few hours or days. In more severe cases of concussion that last up to several weeks. The treatment for a concussion is usually to watch the person closely for any change in level of consciousness.The person may need to stay in the hospital for close observation. Surgery is usually not necessary. Headache and dizziness are common, but if the headache persists or becomes severe, it is best to seek medical attention.

Prevention for Concussions

  • Wear safety gear for sports, even when playing recreational sports with friends and family.
  • Wear your seat belt when driving.
  • If you receive a blow, direct or indirect, sit down and take a few minutes to make sure you're ok.

Sources:

Centers for Disease Control, CDC.gov, Nonfatal Traumatic Brain Injuries Related to Sports and Recreation Activities Among Persons Aged ≤19 Years --- United States, 2001--2009

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