There is a general consensus in the medical community that multiple concussive injuries in children likely have long-term consequences into adulthood. Despite popular belief, concussions are not always a result of a blow to the head. A concussion is a type of mild brain injury that occurs when a jolting causes the brain to forcefully hit the skull. Concussions become exponentially more risky with each subsequent one, and children need more recovery time than adults. While there may not be a loss of consciousness, there will be a change in consciousness. Concussions become especially tricky because there may or may not be symptoms at the time of the injury, or the symptoms may worsen over time. Fortunately, most people recover within weeks from an initial concussion with proper diagnosis and rest.
Kids are more likely than adults to sustain concussions because of their involvement in physical activities. Most concussions in children are caused by playground injuries as well as bicycle and motor vehicle accidents. Sports only account for a small fraction of childhood concussions. Nevertheless, high school athletes are three times more likely to sustain catastrophic brain injuries than college athletes. There are more concussions among football players than any other sport. This is followed by soccer, hockey and basketball. If your child is engaged in a sport, it is prudent to educate yourself on the proper safety equipment and recommendations of specialists who deal with childhood concussions. Make sure that your child wears a helmet while riding their bike, skateboarding, rollerblading, or while engaging in similar activities. Although this may not prevent a concussion entirely, it will help prevent more serious brain injuries. Properly supervise children playing on playgrounds, and make sure that they are using age appropriate equipment.
If you believe that your child has suffered a concussion it is important to act immediately. Concussions are often overlooked when they occur with another injury, such as a broken arm. Take your child to the ER if they experience a severe or worsening headache, seizure, loss of consciousness, vomiting, slurred speech or loss of balance. It is advisable to have your child’s pediatrician evaluate them within 24-72 hours of the injury. Even if your child is not showing signs of a concussion, you should keep an eye out for changes in their behavior, mood, temperament, sleeping habits, memory or concentration. If your child is diagnosed with a concussion, do not panic. The vast majority of children are resilient and can recover from concussions without complications. However, your child should be medically cleared before returning to their normal activities.
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At Wittmer|Linehan, we take childhood safety seriously. Each year, we represent hundreds of clients and their families who are injured in accidents. Allow our experience and resources to maximize your ultimate recovery.