March is Brain Injury Awareness Month, and one related topic that’s been getting a lot of attention lately is the subject of concussions in kids. According to a recent study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), visits to the ER for brain trauma by kids under age 20 rose 60 percent between 2001 and 2009. Whether the rising number is due to an increase in head injuries or more awareness of the seriousness of such injuries is unknown. At the very least, these results highlight the importance of the Brain Injury Association of America’s campaign to raise awareness of brain injuries, and to take a closer look at how they affect children.
Recent research looking at children who’ve experienced concussion show that, like adults, they also suffer long-term effects beyond the point when symptoms subside.
In a study of 15 children who’ve been concussed in the past 21 days and 15 who haven’t, advanced brain scanning and cognitive tests showed structural differences in the concussed group, as well as worse test scores. In fact, the structural differences were still present four months later, and were larger than what’s reported to occur in the brains of adult patients with the same level of brain injury.
Another study found that, while most children’s symptoms subsided in a few months, 20 percent of children who experienced mild concussion experienced forgetfulness and dizziness up to a year after their injuries.
These findings suggest that children may be more susceptible to brain injury than adults due to their still maturing brains and skeletons. So, it’s important to take every precaution when dealing with the possibility of a concussion. Here are the signs to look for after a child receives a blow to the head or a jolt of the body:
Signs Observed by Coaching Staff
- Appears dazed or stunned
- Is confused about assignment or position
- Forgets an instruction
- Is unsure of game, score, or opponent
- Moves clumsily
- Answers questions slowly
- Loses consciousness (even briefly)
- Shows mood, behavior, or personality changes
- Can’t recall events prior to hit or fall
- Can’t recall events after hit or fall
Symptoms Reported by Athlete
- Headache or “pressure” in head
- Nausea or vomiting
- Balance problems or dizziness
- Double or blurry vision
- Sensitivity to light
- Sensitivity to noise
- Feeling sluggish, hazy, foggy, or groggy
- Concentration or memory problems
- Does not “feel right” or is “feeling down”
Should a child experience any of the above symptoms, he/she should be kept out of play until being evaluated and cleared by a doctor.
Has your child experienced a concussion? Tell us what his/her symptoms were, and how long they took to subside.
Sources: cbsnews.com, nbcnews.com, and cdc.gov