Concussions and Your Child’s Health By Dr. Tara Hosie #wellbeingwednesday
The topic of concussions has been gathering a lot of media attention lately and for very good reason. As more and more research is being done on the topic we are gaining a better understanding of the severity of the injury and how it should be managed.
Everyone involved in children’s sport including teachers, parents, coaches and the kids themselves need to understand the seriousness of concussions, how to recognize them and what protocols to follow if they do occur.
According to the 2015 International Concussion Consensus, a research symposium on concussions, there are several tenets of a concussion:
- A concussion is a traumatic brain injury
- You do not need to hit your head to get a concussion, it can be a blow to the body, a fall or a whiplash type injury
- There is no loss of consciousness in up to 90% of cases
- CT scans of the brain are normal
Signs and symptoms of concussions are broken down into four categories:
- Cognitive: difficulty with concentration and memory
- Emotional: irritability, nervousness, anxiety, depression, anger
- Physical: headaches, dizziness, nausea, sensitivity to light and sounds
- Sleep Disturbances: difficulty sleeping or increase sleepiness
Up to 90% of people who suffer a concussion recover in 1-2 weeks but pediatric populations (kids) may take longer. Education and early guidance from a healthcare professional following a concussion may reduce the duration of symptoms, which highlights the importance of early detection. In addition, protecting the individual from repeat injury is extremely important.
Baseline testing is a good tool to have when suspecting a concussion; it involves a series of tests measuring neurological function, balance, reaction time, memory, and speed of mental processing. A healthcare provider such as an athletic therapist, physiotherapist, kinesiologist or chiropractor commonly performs these tests at the beginning of a season in order to assess the child’s level of functioning. This comes in handy as a comparison if a concussion is suspected later in the season. It is important to note that baseline testing does not play any role in the prevention of concussion, it is only a tool for comparison to ensure prompt detection.
In cases that last beyond the expected 1-2 weeks, it is important to consult healthcare providers that are trained in concussion protocol and are able to effectively treat the symptoms and implement a proper return-to-play program.
All of this information begs the question, “Should I just ban my kids from participating in sport all together?” The increased media attention and new information is causing parents to become concerned about enrolling their children in sports. Although this fear is not completely unwarranted there are other considerations to be made. Without sports, kids would be more inclined to fill the void with more time spent on smartphones, tablets and laptops. Increased technology use leads to a host of other health concerns including obesity, heart disease, diabetes as well as postural issues. Recreational sports provide kids with a great opportunity to exercise both their bodies and their minds while learning valuable skills such as teamwork and discipline.
While concussion risk in children’s sport is very real, taking steps towards education, early recognition and proper treatment can help to mitigate the effects so that they can continue to reap the benefits of organized sports while staying healthy and safe.
Dr. Tara Hosie is a Toronto area chiropractor treating various conditions related to the muscles, joints and nervous system of the body. Call Dr. Hosie 647-965-7621