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Concussions - The Invisible Injury

What is a Concussion

A concussion is a brain injury that cannot be seen on routine x-rays, CT scans, or MRIs. It affects the way a child thinks and remembers things, and can cause a variety of symptoms.

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS AND SIGNS OF CONCUSSION?

A CHILD DOES NOT NEED TO BE "KNOCKED OUT" (LOSS OF CONSCIOUSNESS) TO HAVE A CONCUSSION.

THINKING PROBLEMS

CHILD'S COMPLAINTS

OTHER PROBLEMS

  • Does not know time, date, place, period of game, opposing team, score of game
  • General confusion
  • Cannot remember things that happened before or after the injury
  • Poor coordination or balance
  • Slow to answer questions or follow directions
  • Easily distracted
  • Poor concentration
  • Strange or inappropriate emotions (i.e. laughing, crying, getting mad easily)
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Feels Dazed
  • Feels "dinged" or stunned; "having my bell rung"
  • Sees stars, flashing lights
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Sleepiness
  • Loss of vision
  • Sees double or blurry
  • Stomachache, stomach pain, nausea
  • Blank stare/glassy eyed
  • Vomiting
  • Slurred speech

WHAT CAUSES A CONCUSSION?
Any blow to the head, face or neck, or a blow to the body which causes a sudden jarring of the head may cause a concussion (i.e. a ball to the head, being checked into the boards in hockey).

WHAT SHOULD YOU DO IF YOUR CHILD GETS A CONCUSSION?
Your child should stop what they are doing right away.

They should not be left alone and should be seen by a doctor as soon as possible that day. If your child is knocked out, call an ambulance to take him/her to the hospital immediately. Do no move your child or remove any equipment such as a helmet, in case of a cervical spine injury. Wait for paramedics to arrive.
(Parachute Canada)

In 2010, in Simcoe Muskoka there were a reported 3,149 sport related injury emergency room visits for children ages 0-19 yrs. The top three reported injuries were related to:

  • Falls involving a snowboard
  • Hockey injuries
  • Football and Rugby injuries

Concussion in Sports

A key component to protecting a young athlete's health is to understand the nature of concussion, how to recognize a concussion, and how to properly manage a safe and healthy return to play and learn. Symptoms of concussion can be subtle and may be overlooked by athletes, coaches, trainers and parents.

If a child or youth receives a blow to the head, they should immediately be removed from play, and assessed. If symptoms of a concussion are present, the athlete should be assessed by a physician as soon as possible.  Tracking blows to the head and concussions is a good idea, use the Concussion ED app to do this whether you are a coach, parents or athlete.

The athlete should rest from physical activities to allow for recovery. It is equally important to rest the brain, including rest from screen time spent with computers, TV and gaming. Once symptoms have completely resolved at rest, the athlete can progress through a medically supervised “Return to Play and Learn” protocol. Returning to activity while still concussed and symptomatic can lead to an increased risk for another concussion and a prolonged recovery.

For more information on Return to Play and Return to Learn guidelines visit Parachute’s Concussion webpages.

Prevention of concussion and head injury is most successful when parents, coaches, trainers and athletes are properly educated and safety guidelines are followed. Expand the Reach (www.expandthereach.ca) is a free web-based resource for coaches to assist athletes in dealing with stress and performance anxiety. The program motto is ‘WHATEVER IT TAKES!’ in reference to mental wellness for better performance in sport & life. 

Keep in mind that protective equipment can only reduce the risk and severity of injuries to the face and skull, there is no concussion proof helmet.

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