Parents: If You Suspect A Concussion
A concussion is defined as a temporary alteration in brain function. The majority of concussions do not involve a loss of consciousness but may cause symptoms that can have a profound effect on a child’s ability to function normally.
A concussion can be caused by a direct blow to the head, for instance, in an athletic competition or a fall, or even if the head is suddenly shaken, and not directly impacted as in a motor vehicle accident or a high-speed impact to the body (like a hard tackle in football).
The good news is that most children will return to normal by approximately 10-14 days after the concussion has occurred. However, a significant number of children (10-20%), despite appearing outwardly normal will experience a number of more subtle effects of concussion which may significantly affect their ability to participate in physical activity or to learn effectively in school. These symptoms may last for weeks, months, or longer.
Such symptoms may include headache, fatigue, dizziness, mental “fogginess”, diminished attention, difficulties with sleep, sensitivity to light or sound, and emotional changes such as irritability, anxiety, or sadness. Children may also have difficulty learning new information and attempts at doing schoolwork can cause worsening of symptoms.
As a parent, you are in the best position to recognize these symptoms, and your child’s medical provider has the training to recommend the best management that will help your child achieve the quickest and best recovery, both physically and academically. Children must “return to learn” before they can “return to play”.
When your child has been diagnosed with a concussion, whether by the primary care provider, in the emergency department, or by athletic personnel, MAKE SURE YOUR CHILD’S SCHOOL IS NOTIFIED (the school nurse, guidance, and the principal or vice-principal). Even if you, the parent, suspect a concussion may have occurred but your child has not been medically evaluated for it, discuss it with the primary provider. From there, the primary provider will work with the school to develop educational strategies to ensure the most comfortable environment for your child’s learning and the most effective recovery from the concussion.