Reports of child concussions have doubled in the last decade, partly because more children than ever are playing organized sports.
Undoubtedly though, much of the spike is from people recognizing the seriousness of these injuries.
Due to the ongoing development of their brains, children are often more vulnerable to sustain a concussion and suffer severe symptoms like headaches, loss of memory or balance, and difficulty with concentration or speech.
The good news? With the proper treatment and recovery time, they are also more likely to bounce back.
Alex Diamond, D.O., assistant professor of Pediatrics, Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation and medical director of Vanderbilt’s Program for Injury Prevention in Youth Sports, treated 142 young athletes last year in the Vanderbilt Sports Concussion Center.
He compares the brain to a muscle. If you tear a muscle in your arm and you keep trying to lift heavy things, not only is it going to hurt, but it’s going to take longer to heal, he says.
Rest is a key part in treating concussions, which means taking a break from smart phones, television or music after a brain injury. Most importantly though, children should refrain from athletic activities until they are fully recovered.
Some other tips to prevent, recognize and properly treat child concussions include:
- Familiarizing yourself with the signs and symptoms of a concussion, which include headaches, confusion, dizziness, blurred vision and sensitivity to light or noise, among others.
- If a head injury occurs, remove the athlete from play immediately and seek medical attention. Note: A loss of consciousness doesn’t have to occur with a concussion.
- Make sure children use the right protective equipment for each sport, such as pads, helmets, face guards and eyewear, and they follow all safety rules of the sport in both practices and games.
Vanderbilt has launched a number of efforts to help prevent and treat concussions and other sports-related injuries, including Vanderbilt’s CoachSmart App, sports safety clinics and pre-concussion baseline tests for young athletes.
Visit Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital and Vanderbilt’s website for detailed information on concussion safety.