Winter and spring sports carry a concussion risk. Football concussions tend to get the most coverage in the news, but kids can also get concussions during hockey, baseball, lacrosse, wrestling and other sports.
It's important to remember that sustaining a direct hit to the head isn't the only way to get a concussion. Concussions occur when the brain is sent into a sudden "spin," which can also happen when there's a blow to the chest or torso that causes the head to snap forwards or backwards. Any time a child suffers this kind of injury, he should be seen by a medical professional and then monitored closely for the next several hours.
Here at Children's Hospital Boston, we provide baseline neurocognitive evaluations with a comprehensive computerized test called Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing (ImPACT). These baseline tests can be used to assess the likelihood of future sport-related concussions.
Warning signs of a concussion are usually apparent just after the initial impact. However, we caution parents that it is possible symptoms won't be obvious right away; they can also be overlooked when associated injuries, like lacerations or fractures, occur at the same time. For this reason, it's essential that— even if children receive immediate treatment from athletic trainers, EMTs or in the emergency department—they also see their regular doctor.
Kids with concussions most often complain of headaches or insomnia, but they can also experience dizziness, nausea, fatigue, confusion, memory loss and difficulties concentrating and completing their schoolwork. All of these symptoms should start to improve after a few days of rest and avoidance of any strenuous physical or
Out of all high school athletes who have a concussion, approximately 85 percent are symptom-free within a week and 98 percent are symptom-free within a month. If a child's symptoms aren't getting any better after the first few days, or are becoming worse, he should be referred to a specialist for further tests and treatment.
William Meehan, MD, is director of the Sports Concussion Clinic at Children's Hospital Boston.
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