Vital for Parents to Know Symptoms, Recovery Process
While coaches and licensed athletic trainers are trained to identify concussions, it is important parents also know and understand the signs of a head injury. Concussions are a type of traumatic brain injury caused by a blow, bump or jolt to the head. The movement can cause the brain to bounce around or twist in the skull, which can damage brain cells or create chemical changes.
If your child or teen bumps or hits her head at a game or practice, the coach and trainer will assess your child for a possible head injury, but sometimes the signs do not immediately show up, which is why it is important for parents to know what to look for.
Athletes who report any of the symptoms below or just say they don’t feel right after a hit to the head or takes a hit to the body that causes the head and brain to move quickly back and forth should be checked out by a medical professional for a possible concussion:
- Loses consciousness, even for a brief moment
- Forgets an instruction or is confused about their position on the field
- Appears dazed or stunned
- Moves clumsily
- Answers questions slowly
- Shows mood, behavior or personality changes
In talking with your children, ask if they report any of these symptoms:
- Headache or pressure in the head
- Nausea or vomiting
- Dizziness or blurry vision
- Bothered by noise or vision
- Feeling sluggish, foggy or groggy
- Easily confused or has memory problems
- Just not “feeling right”
The most important step parents can do is talk with their children about concussions, why they are serious and why symptoms should be reported. Some athletes worry if they report a head injury and need to miss playing time that their position on the team may be threatened or they will look weak. By explaining that not treating a concussion is dangerous and cause long-term damage or even death, the hope is the children and teens will not be afraid to speak up.
Concussions also affect your child’s schoolwork, such as the amount of time spent in front of a computer or reading. A medical provider will let you know what he should and should not be doing. Only after your child is back to his regular academic work can he think about returning to his sport. A special protocol will be followed in preparing your child to regular physical activity. First, a medical provider will need to first clear your child to resume normal activities. From there, the athlete will slowly build up to being able to participate fully in games and practices starting out with light aerobic activity.
It is important an athlete follow the correct steps before returning to regular activity after a concussion. If the child does not fully heal from the injury, a second, more serious concussion can happen. Be supportive and let your child know his brain is more important than a sporting event.
Cassandra Glodowski of ThedaCare Orthopedic Care is the licensed athletic trainer at Waupaca High School.