If your child has suffered a head injury on the field or at the playground, you can take an active role in getting them the proper medical care. We have learned more about how head injuries can affect young athletes and you can both support your children’s recreational activities and protect their health.
Organizations are beginning to come out with safety guidelines, like the recently published official policy on tackling in youth football from the American Academy of Pediatricians’ Council on Sports Medicine and Fitness. The CDC website is also a great concussion resource. These are great places to start educating yourself on this important topic.
Parents On the Front Lines
Some parents know about the classic signs and symptoms of a concussion, but some of the more subtle warning signs may be more difficult to identify.
Concussions can show up in many different ways depending on the age of child and the type of injury. Because Colorado legislation says that a medical professional has to evaluate any athlete who displays signs of suspected concussion, it’s really important for you to know how to recognize signs and symptoms. Anyone who coaches children ages 11 and up (recreation or competitive) must be certified in concussion recognition under the law.
Physical signs of concussion include:
- Loss of balance
- Blurred/double vision
- Sensitive to noise and/or light
Mental signs of concussion include:
- Trouble concentrating/feeling “foggy”
- Change in emotions
- Difficulty sleeping, or sleeping too much
- Memory problems
For more information on how you can help your child’s concussion treatment, visit Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children’s REAP Concussion Management Program website.
When To Seek Medical Attention
Our team’s knowledge and expertise makes us uniquely qualified to treat sports-related head injuries. We are dedicated to helping return your child to playing shape after an injury.
If you’re worried that your child’s injury may be more than a “bump on the head”, use this symptom scale to help understand your child’s symptoms. However, remember that if your child is showing significant signs or symptoms they should be seen and evaluated by a medical provider.
Getting Back in The Game
If your child is diagnosed with a concussion, know that most of the time it will get better. Here’s what you as a parent can control to get your child get better:
- Remove them from activity until cleared by a medical provider
- Limit all screen time to give the brain time to rest and heal
- Notify your child’s school so you can partner with them to make necessary adjustments
Every concussion is different and it is hard to predict how long recovery can take; however most athletes (90 percent) recover within two to three weeks. Certain things can make it harder to recover. These include:
- Multiple concussions
- Having ADD, ADHD, or migraines
- Females tend to take longer to heal from concussion injuries.
Because every case is different, be sure to tell your child how important it is to let their brain fully heal, no matter how long it may take.
Supporting Your Athlete
Youth sports and activities are an important part of a child’s development and help keep them healthy, but head injuries and concussions can quickly take the fun out of the game. Kids with active lifestyles may be injured as part of school or community sports, but the threat of head trauma shouldn’t keep them from participating in these activities. Having trained medical professional, such as certified athletic trainers, available during practices, games and activities can make a big difference in knowing when a doctor needs to properly diagnose and treat sports-related head injuries.
If your child gets a concussion, our staff is here to support you. We provide comprehensive concussion treatment to your child. We are the only concussion clinic in Denver where your child sees both a medical doctor and a clinical psychologist. Our psychologist communicates directly with the school at every visit to help support their recovery.
By following up-to-date safety regulations and recognizing the signs and symptoms of concussion, parents, coaches and teachers can help keep kids safe – both on and off the field. Play ball!
** This blog post was written to serve as guidance for recognizing potential concussions in young athletes and should not be taken as concrete medical advice, nor do the views above reflect the views of Rocky Mountain Pediatric Orthopedics or the HealthONE organization. As with any medical questions or concerns, especially in regards to head injuries, it is imperative to make an appointment with your physician for proper diagnosis and treatment.
Brooke Pengel, M.D., is a board-certified pediatric sports medicine specialist with a decade of experience devoted to treating youth sports injuries. Dr. Pengel is a member of the Executive Committee for the American Academy of Pediatricians’ Council on Sports Medicine and Fitness promoting the safety and health of youth athletes. Dr. Pengel serves as team physician for five local high schools. As a result of her dedication to the field of sports medicine and her efforts in developing a nationally recognized program, Dr. Pengel was recognized by her peers in 2009 as a “Top Doctor” in the field of Sports Medicine in 5280 magazine. She enjoys an active Colorado lifestyle with her husband and three young children and she is an avid sports fan.