Being Cautious About Concussions

by Baylor Scott & White Staff on September 3, 2013

in Medical Information

injuryIt all happens so fast—the roar of the crowd, the huddle, the hand-off, then comes the big hit, and in less than a minute, he’s down on the field. Teammates start to carry on, until they realize he’s not getting up. He has a concussion.

As players get down on one knee to pay respect, everyone is silent. The mother is running down to the field while countless things are running through her mind. What is happening, and what can I do?

It turns out that children and teens who participate in collision sports are more prone to concussions.

Diana Salter, the athletic training program coordinator at Scott & White Hospital – Round Rock is the concussion center liaison. She has been licensed for over 20 years and has worked with a number of athletes on all levels.

“I am on the sidelines so I see these athletes immediately,” says Salter. “I have spent the past seven years researching concussions to make sure here at McLane Children’s and Scott & White we provide the best care for our patients.”

Why Are Concussions Dangerous?

Concussions are a traumatic brain injury, usually occurring after a blow to the head, although there doesn’t have to be direct contact. Salter says this brain injury is caused by linear or rotation acceleration which interrupts the brain processes.

“They are dangerous because we do not know the long term effects of a concussion,” says Salter. “Post-concussion syndrome is a complex disorder in which a variable combination of post-concussion symptoms – such as headaches and dizziness – last for weeks and sometimes months after the injury that caused the concussion.”

Some concussions may go undetected, and it can take parents a week or so to realize something is wrong with their child. If left untreated, it can lead to headaches, visual changes, emotional changes and many others.

Is My Child At Risk for a Concussion?

“Due to jump houses and younger participation in athletes, children are sustaining concussions,” says Salter. “Children who participate in collision sports are also more prone to concussions.”

Children are starting to play sports at such a young age, and their bodies are not strong enough to endure these accelerations.

“We think small children are invincible but their brains are still growing until the age of 21 so there is a lot of room for the brain to move around the skull,” says Salter.

If your child is between 5 and 13 he may be more susceptible to concussions, and the younger they are, the longer it takes them to heal.

“When you choose to participate in sports, you are going to be at risk for any injuries,” says Salter. “I feel competing in sports is great to teach kids life lessons of teamwork, hard work and leadership, but I tell them to be educated about concussions.”

How Can I Prevent a Concussion?

To prevent concussions, education is the best defense.

  • Educate Kids

Talk to your kids about sports safety. Your son only gets one brain. Experts are still researching the long-term effects of concussions. Although they may feel invincible, remind them that being safe is the most important part of athletics. If they have any symptoms of dizziness, headaches or nausea, they need to rest immediately as it’s key in the healing process.

  •  Educate Parents

“It is important parents educate themselves and their child about concussions and the signs and symptoms,” says Salter. She suggests the parents knowing what the coaches are putting their children through at practice. It may be a good idea to attend some of the practices or games, so you can see what your child is doing on a regular basis.

  •  Educate Coaches & Trainers

Are your son’s coaches using the proper techniques? Do they know the signs and symptoms of a concussion? Coaches and trainers should be monitoring athletes closely. Sometimes concussions is not just one hit, but can be multiple hits over time. Coaches should be aware of athletes and their condition, and not push them beyond their limits. It doesn’t always matter the magnitude of the hit, so it is best to keep a watchful eye. Salter says coaches should also check the athletes’ helmets weekly and make sure all equipment is fitting properly.

How Do I Move Forward After a Concussion?

If you know someone who’s had a concussion, it can be a scary thing. For more information about post-concussion syndrome or how to move forward safely, check out our next blog article or learn more about our impact concussion testing.

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