What parents need to know about concussion care for children and teens
In fact, concussions are the most prevalent type of traumatic brain injury, accounting for more than half of all cases (TBI). We've learned from the experiences of former National Football League players that concussions can cause long-term health issues.
When a child or teen has a concussion, it's important that we do everything we can to make sure they get the best care possible and prevent concussions.
When a child suffers a concussion, it's difficult for doctors, parents, and coaches to decide what the best course of action should be. Children who have concussions can rely on recommendations made by the CDC, which examines all of the evidence and provides guidance.
Because every child is different, concussion treatment must take this into consideration.
The recommendations take into account the reality that each child who has a concussion is unique. Naturally, each injury is unique, but it goes beyond that. Certain children are predisposed to having difficulties, such as those who have had prior concussions or who have learning, mental health, or neurological difficulties.
Interestingly, children who are stressed in their families due to factors like poverty may take longer to recover from concussions. Additionally, there is a wild-card factor: occasionally, children take an extraordinarily long time to recover — or, conversely, recover extremely rapidly.
What are the recommendations for concussion care?
The CDC's practice guidelines for health care providers contain the following points:
The majority of children who sustain concussions do not require CT or MRI tests. If there was a significant accident or if the child is exhibiting severe or unusual symptoms, it is worthwhile to conduct an examination to rule out internal bleeding, fractures, or other injuries. Most of the time, there is nothing to see with concussions, so these imaging studies aren't worth the risk or the money.
Make the diagnostic with the appropriate instrument. We associate certain symptoms with a concussion, such as severe headaches, disorientation, and loss of memory of the collision. However, because it is not always evident, it is beneficial to utilize a validated checklist or questionnaire, which means that it has been proven to accurately distinguish people with a concussion from those who simply suffered a bad bump to the head.
When a child suffers a concussion, look for risk factors that could result in a longer recovery time. As I mentioned previously, some children recover more slowly than others—and while we can never be certain, it's critical to consider this at the time of the injury.
What should parents be aware of regarding concussions?
The majority of children and adolescents who have concussions recover entirely within one to three months. However, it is critical that children, families, and coaches understand all of the symptoms associated with a concussion and distinguish between what is typical and what indicates a problem. For example, insomnia, dizziness, and moodiness are all common, but if any of these symptoms worsen, it's critical to see a doctor.
Parents can assist their children in resuming normal activities following a concussion. Rest — not just of the body, but also of the mind — is critical for the first two to three days following a concussion, but it's also critical to begin reestablishing normalcy. When people entirely rest for an extended period of time, it actually takes them longer to recover.
Returning to normalcy following a concussion
We used to believe that complete brain and body rest following a concussion was the best course of action. Resuming normal activities is increasingly being shown to be the more beneficial treatment. For instance, new research examining a large number of trials found that exercise can aid in the rehabilitation process following a concussion. The hard part is finding the best way for each child to get back to normal.
The primary concept is to begin slowly and monitor the child's progress. If kids do well, they can increase their education or physical activity. If they are not doing well—that is, if they have an increase in symptoms, they should do less and move more slowly.
Returning to normal life can take a few days or several months. It must be adapted to the individual child and circumstances, which is why consultation with your paediatrician is critical. It's also critical not to rush the process, particularly when returning to an activity that involves concussions, such as football, hockey, or soccer. If a child has another concussion while they are healing, it will take them a long time to get better and may cause long-term problems.
For additional information, please visit the CDC's Heads Up page.
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