Reports continue to surface about brain injuries sustained by NFL players and other professional athletes involved in heavy contact sports. But pro athletes are not the only players at risk. It is essential for parents to make themselves more aware about concussions and the dangers of head trauma to their children.
Studies presented at a recent pediatric sports medicine symposium revealed that parents often lack important knowledge about the signs and symptoms of a concussion. Many parents also have preconceived ideas and misconceptions about concussions and brain injuries. This lack of knowledge may result in symptoms being ignored—and that may mean a child with a head injury will not get the diagnosis and treatment that could be critical to health and life.
One study revealed that only about half of the 511 parents surveyed were able to identify a concussion as “a brain injury that could lead to symptoms such as headache or difficulty concentrating.” On the other hand, the majority of parents were aware that any suspected concussion warranted activities being stopped and the child receiving medical attention right away. Only 29 percent knew the recommended guidelines on when it would be okay for them to allow their child to return to school, sports and other regular activities following treatment.
One of the most common misconceptions parents were found to have about concussions is that CTs, MRIs and other brain imaging scans can be used by doctors to diagnose a concussion. Proper diagnosis of this type of injury can only be done through a complete panel of neurological tests. Another misconception involved the use of the word “bell ringer.” Only about half of those surveyed knew this term was synonymous with concussion. Many parents also incorrectly identified a difficulty speaking or reduced breathing rate as a symptom of concussion.
Concussion Symptoms and Signs
Parents who are able to recognize the symptoms and signs of a concussion will be far better equipped to get their children the medical attention and treatment they need in a timely fashion. Some of the most common symptoms and signs of a concussion are:
- Brief loss of consciousness
- Memory difficulties
- Drowsiness or an overall feeling of sluggishness
- Slow reaction time
- Feeling light-headed or dizzy
- Having trouble balancing
- Blurred or double vision
- Sensitivity to light or noise
- Nausea or vomiting
175,000 Sports-Related TBIs Annually
According to an article in Medical Daily, the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) estimates emergency rooms in the U.S. treat close to 175,000 sports-related traumatic brain injuries each year. This is a very concerning number, particularly to parents of school-age children.
While actions have been taken in recent years to help reduce the number of head traumas and brain injuries sustained by children (through programs such as the “Heads Up Program”), a lack of information or misinformation could lead to parents hurting their child’s recovery chances.
Doctors know all too well that the moments immediately following a head trauma or severe hit are crucial. Parents, coaches and others who are properly educated and able to recognize the signs of concussion can do a lot to help reduce the long-term damage this type of injury can cause. Helping their child follow through with the regimen his or her doctor recommends is also essential to recovery.