Concussion / Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
3 Things You Don't Know About Concussions
1. You can get one even if you're wearing a helmet.
Helmets are crucial because they prevent skull fractures and lessen the impact of a blow. But concussions can happen when the brain slides inside the skull, and helmets won't necessarily prevent that movement, says Stephen Rice, MD, former member of the Executive Committee of the American Academy of Pediatrics Council on Sports Medicine and Fitness. Concussions can't always be prevented, but enforcing good sportsmanship so that "cheap blows" are discouraged can help.
2. They don't necessarily cause you to pass out.
"Most people think that if it's a concussion, you'll pass out, but that's not true 9 out of 10 times," says Gerard Gioia, PhD, director of the concussion program at Children's National Medical Center in Washington, DC. Serious symptoms to watch for after a head injury (call 911) also include excessive sleepiness, repeated vomiting, seizures, or a headache that gets worse. Other symptoms that mean a player should get out of the game and see her doctor include head pressure, grogginess and blurred vision. For a full list of symptoms, go to CDC.gov/Concussion. "When in doubt, sit it out," says Dr. Gioia. "If you don't allow the brain to recover and a child gets hit again, it can cause permanent or fatal damage."
3. Mental rest is just as important as physical rest.
Assuming your child isn't in immediate danger (a doctor must evaluate her if she hit her head and has a concussion symptom), the best prescription is usually rest. It can take days or months to recover from a concussion, and your child shouldn't return to sports or partake in other potentially risky activities like bike riding or skateboarding until the doctor gives the all-clear. But mental (cognitive) rest is important, too, says Dr. Gioia. "Reducing the amount of thinking and concentrating after a concussion is the same thing as reducing the physical stress on a sprained knee," he explains. Plan to keep your child home from school at least one day after a concussion, then monitor her symptoms. If she's having trouble following conversations, reading or doing homework, she needs more time to recover.
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