Heads Up Parents! Concussions are a serious injury for young athletes

Heads up_sportsParents, it’s time to take brain injuries out of play – we need to start treating concessions like a serious medical illness. If we broke our leg, we would have to put it into a cast and rest it. This is the same with the brain – even though we can’t see it, it is still a brain injury and needs proper rest!

Concussions are one of the most common brain injuries that can happen to your child when they’re out playing on the playground or participating in recreational sports. About every year, emergency departments in Canada treat an estimated 173,000 sports- and recreational-related traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), including concussions, among children and adolescents ranging from birth to 19 years of age. In fact, children and teens are more likely to get a concussion and actually take longer to recover than adults.

concussion_kidWhat is a concussion?

A concussion is caused when the brain is moved rapidly back and forth inside the skull usually from a heavy physical blow to the head or to the body that causes a sudden jerk of the head or neck. The symptoms that can occur from this brain injury can have noticeable effects on the way that your child thinks or acts. Because of this, any kind of head injury must be taken very seriously.

How do I know if my child has a concussion?

A sure easy way to tell if your child might be experiencing a concussion is to see if your child is experiencing any of the Red Flag Symptoms. If your child shows any the following symptoms, it is vital that you call 9-11 or see your health professional right away. Note that symptoms may vary for each individual and may be delayed for days or weeks until apparent.

Red Flag Symptoms (for children):

  • Neck pains
  • Increased confusion or irritability
  • Repeated vomiting
  • Seizures or convulsions
  • Weakness in arms/legs including tingling or burning sensations
  • Deteriorating or loss of consciousness
  • Severe or increasing headaches
  • Unusual behavioural changes
  • Double vision

Red Flag Symptoms (for infants):

  • Crankiness and irritability (beyond usual)
  • Any sudden changes in sleeping patterns, eating or playing
  • Not interested in their favourite toys or activities
  • Forgets a new skill (e.g. potty training)
  • Listless
  • Loss of balance, unsteady walking
  • Not eating or nursing
  • Cannot be comforted

*** Even if your child/infant is not currently experiencing any of these symptoms but has experienced an incident in the past, you should seek medical attention right away!

concussion (1)Don’t hide it! Take care of your brain first!

Even if your child really wants to participate in that baseball tournament, don’t let him! It is better to be healthy now – get it checked out and give it some rest. During recovery, doing any exercise or activities that involve using a lot of concentration (e.g. studying, using the computer, or playing video games) may cause the symptoms to reappear or result in further serious complications and result in a lengthened recovery time.

Make sure your child gets rest. Remember, it is better to miss one game than miss the whole season!


For more information and other useful material about your child’s brain injury and recovery, go to Heads Up For Parents or check out the Parents Resources.

Categories: Ask A Pediatrician, Physical Activity, Safety

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