As a parent of a child in contact sports, it’s important for you to be prepared if your child suffers a head injury during play. An estimated 1.6 to 3.8 million sports- and recreation-related concussions occur in the United States each year according to the Brain Injury Research Institute. Educating yourself and your children will ensure they receive the right care if they are injured.
“The first step is to get baseline testing before the season,” explained Steven Erickson, MD, medical director for Banner Sports and Concussion Specialists. “This gives health care providers a picture of your child’s normal neurologic function. If an injury occurs, these results help us determine the impact of the concussion.”
The next step is to know the symptoms. If your child experiences any of these symptoms, they should be examined before returning to play.
- Nausea or vomiting
- Blurred or double vision
- Memory loss
- Sleep difficulties
- Sensitivity to light and noise
- Concentration issues
If symptoms continue to worsen, or nausea and vomiting do not subside, go to the emergency room. Worsening symptoms may signal a more serious injury.
Treatment for Concussion
“No athlete should play or practice their sport after a head injury until they’ve been seen by a medical professional,” said Dr. Erickson. “Every head injury is not a concussion, but every injury associated with symptoms must be considered a concussion and evaluated.”
An evaluation includes a review of the injury and resulting symptoms, and a series of tests to determine the level of injury and compare changes from the athlete’s baseline testing. MRIs and CT scans cannot diagnose a concussion. These tests are used if a more serious injury is suspected.
Rest is an important initial treatment of concussion, as activity may make symptoms worse. Concussion specialists have an array of rehabilitation techniques and medications that can effectively treat concussions and resolve symptoms. Receiving the appropriate treatment can ensure your child is fully recovered before returning to contact sports.
No special equipment, including helmets, will prevent a concussion. Our concussion experts recommend exercises that strengthen the neck muscles and appropriate coaching to avoid head and neck injuries.
If your child plays a contact sport, we encourage you to schedule them for baseline concussion testing. Banner’s concussion specialists have extensive knowledge about the evaluation, treatment and management of concussions. To learn more about concussions as well as testing and treatment visit bannerhealth.com.