As the weather warms, most of us tend to spend more time out of doors. Children, especially, can be seen, and heard, throughout neighborhoods on bicycles, trampolines or just running around in the yard; and, signs for spring sports registrations are also popping up on street corners. Since the month of March is Brain Injury Awareness Month, let us learn more about ways we can protect ourselves, and our children, from suffering from a very common and mild type of brain injury, concussions. The CDC defines concussions as a "type of traumatic brain injury (TBI) caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or by a hit to the body that causes the head and brain to move rapidly back and forth. This sudden movement can cause the brain to bounce around or twist in the skull, creating chemical changes in the brain and sometimes stretching and damaging brain cells (CDC).
According to the Utah Department of Health, thousands of Utahns suffer a concussion, or other type of TBI, every year. Many of these are children. It is estimated that approximately 14 kids suffer a concussion every week at school. Most of these concussions happen during recess or from contact sports. Each concussion should be taken seriously and examined by a doctor. Click on this CDC link for a list of symptoms or watch the video below.
If you suspect your child or teen has suffered a concussion, it is important for them to be examined by a doctor. While many children and teens recover completely from a concussion, it important to know that they can also pose a serious health risk. The Mayo Clinic suggests, that since all head injuries take time to heal, children should rest from any physical and mental activities for a couple of days. It is also very important that a child or teen does not return to a sports activity until a concussion has fully healed. Another blow to the head could make a mild concussion much worse by prolonging symptoms and could lead to more permanent damages. Also, studies show that children who have suffered one concussion are more likely to suffer another (Mayo Clinic).
For more information about concussions in your child athlete, check out the CDC's site for Heads Up by clicking on the Heads Up info graphic. It is a guide created to help parents, coaches, and athletes become more informed about concussions.
It is so important for our children to be active and adventurous. Let us do our part in keeping them safe safe by learning what we can on how to prevent and treat concussions if and when they happen.