How can I tell if my child has had a concussion, and if he has, what should I do?
This is such an important question as concussions often go unrecognized and undertreated. One of the best sources of information comes from Think First, an excellent resource for parents and healthcare providers. It explains that a concussion is a traumatic brain injury that occurs as a result of a direct or indirect force – a so-called disturbance to the brain. There can be a host of non-specific signs and symptoms. It often does not involve loss of consciousness – which surprises many parents. Many people think that if there is no loss of consciousness, it may not be a severe injury and this is not always true, particularly in the case of repeated concussions.
Concussion should be suspected if any of four main areas are impacted. These four areas include:
For even more detail, I turned to the Consensus Statement on Concussion. which was reported in the British Journal of Sports Medicine in 2013. It says concussion should be suspected if one or more of the following visible clues, signs, symptoms or errors in memory questions are present:
The bottom line for me is to always err on the side of caution. As the guidelines clearly state, any athlete with a suspected concussion should be immediately removed from play, and should not be returned to activity until they are assessed by a doctor.
Athletes with a suspected concussion should not be left alone and it is recommended that, in all cases of suspected concussion, the player is referred to a medical professional for diagnosis and guidance as well as return-to-play decisions, even if the symptoms resolve.
If you suspect that your child might have had a concussion, outline your areas of concern with your child’s healthcare provider right away.
For more information about concussion safety, visit ThinkFirst.ca
Got a question? Submit it to Dr. Marla.
Originally published in ParentsCanada magazine, November 2013.