Health Aware: What parents should know about concussions
Submitted September 4, 2012 4:04PM
Sports safety: Illinois and Indiana are among 21 states that set stringent concussion rules for student athletes. The Illinois law says that school boards must adopt a policy requiring a student athlete with a suspected concussion or head injury to be removed from the practice or game. | File photo
To learn more, attend the Edward Neurosciences Institute program, “What parents, coaches need to know about concussions,” from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Sept. 12 in the Edward Hospital auditorium, 801 S. Washington St. in Naperville. To register, call 630-527-6363 or visit www.edward.org/concussion.
Updated: October 6, 2012 1:40PM
Parenthood can be a joy. It also can bring gray-hair-inducing worry about your child getting hurt. But wrapping your kid in bubble wrap could keep them from developing skills and becoming independent. Where do you draw the line?
One area that clearly calls for proactive parents, especially if your child is in sports, is the prevention and treatment of concussions — brain injuries that occur when the head is struck or suddenly jarred.
As many as 3.8 million sports- and recreation-related concussions happen each year in this country, according to the Centers for Disease Control. About half of these injuries go undiagnosed and untreated, putting the person at risk for more severe brain injury.
Dr. Mohammad Sajed, a neurologist with the Edward Neurosciences Institute in affiliation with the Northwestern Medical Faculty Foundation and medical director of Neurocritical Care at Edward Hospital, offers the following tips to help your kids avoid concussions, or to minimize their impact if they do happen:
Make sure your child wears protective gear appropriate for their activity: helmets when biking or sledding, for example.
Get to know your child’s coaches and trainers. Confirm that all who work with the team are up-to-speed on laws and guidelines for kids returning to play after a head injury.
Find out if your child’s school does pre-season baseline neurological tests for its athletes. These are measures of the child’s balance and brain functions, such as memory and focus. This information helps in evaluating the impact of any subsequent head injury.
Urge your child to speak up about possible concussion symptoms. These include headaches, light headedness, nausea, blurry vision, dizziness, depression, sensitivity to light and noise, confusion and difficulty in processing information.
If your child does suffer a blow to the head, seek prompt medical attention. A CT scan may be needed to rule out bleeding in the brain. Follow up with your primary care physician or a neurologist.
Sometimes concussion symptoms don’t show up for a day or two, so keep an eye out for symptoms after you get home.
Your child may need to avoid stimulating activities and even schoolwork for a while. Keep your child’s teacher and school nurse up-to-date on your child’s progress.
Don’t push for a return to sports before your child is medically cleared. Getting a second concussion before the first one heals is dangerous and sometimes deadly, especially in young people whose brains aren’t fully developed.
Health Aware is courtesy of Edward Hospital.