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Concussion

Concussion - What it is

Concussion is a type of brain injury that causes the brain not to work normally. It typically occurs after a sudden bump, blow, or jolt to the head, face, or neck. These injuries can cause damage to the brain and need to be assessed urgently.

Concussions commonly occur during sports or accidental falls. It may or may not involve loss of consciousness.

Concussion - Symptoms

If one or more of the following symptoms are present, please seek medical attention immediately.

  • Headache
  • Memory loss, difficulties in thinking clearly or concentrating
  • Feeling sluggish, hazy, or slower in their thinking
  • Emotional changes such as feeling irritable, sad, nervous, or more emotional than usual
  • Nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and balance issues
  • Blurry or double vision
  • Sensitivity to light or noise
  • Sleep disturbance

Concussion - How to prevent?

The most common cause of concussions in children and teenagers is head injury during contact sports such as rugby, football, and basketball, as well as non-contact sports such as cricket and softball.

While participating in sports is a great way for your child to make friends and stay active, here are some things you can do to ensure they stay safe while they play:

  • Encourage your child to learn proper sports techniques from their coaches. These techniques will promote safe play and ensure safety in situations where contact occurs.
  • Encourage your child to follow his or her coach’s safety instructions and the rules of their sport.
  • Encourage children (and their coaches) to report any head injuries, even if it means that they have to sit out of the game for some time.
  • Where relevant, encourage your child to wear safety equipment (e.g. helmets) that are recommended for the sport. Protective gear must also fit well and be used properly.

Concussions can also occur from falls at home (e.g. from a double-decker bed). Home fittings and furniture should be assessed for safety.

Concussion - Causes and Risk Factors

Concussion - Diagnosis

The diagnosis of concussion is made by the doctor after being informed about the symptoms during and after the injury, as well as after a physical examination of the injured child.

Concussion - Treatments

  1. Adequate rest. It is important that your child avoids intense or long durations of reading, watching television, and using their phone or laptop if it makes their symptoms worse. Talk to your child regularly and make sure they are not doing anything that makes their symptoms worse.

  2. Timely return to school. After the recommended rest by the doctor, your child can return to school. To ensure your child is ready to return to school, make sure your child can focus for the duration of a class period without causing symptoms to return.

    Once your child is back in school, continue to talk to your child regularly and ask how they are tolerating school work. If they are unable to cope, you may wish to speak with the school administration about making any of the following adjustments:
    • Limiting your child’s course load
    • Shortening your child’s school day
    • Increasing rest time between classes

  3. Gradual return to sport. Once your child has fully returned to school, they should begin a gradual return to full contact sports. If your child incurs a second head injury before he or she fully recovers from concussion, it can result in a more serious injury.

The child should follow this five stage plan:

Stage 1:Walking or stationary cycling at a slow or medium pace without any resistance
Stage 2:Running drills without head impact
Stage 3:More difficult, non-contact drills such as passing or shooting drills. May also resume resistance training.
Stage 4:Full contact practice with close monitoring
Stage 5:Return to normal play

Your child should not have any symptoms after each stage for at least a week before continuing to the next stage. Do not rush to the next stage if your child is not ready. If any symptoms recur, rest until symptoms resolve. The child may need to return to an earlier stage and scale up slowly again.

Studies have shown that a gradual return to play ensures your child will not only resolve their symptoms faster, but that they will be much safer when they are back to full contact play. If you would like any advice on how to carry this plan out, please approach your doctor or nurse for more information.

If your child has persistent complaints of headache, difficulty concentration, drowsiness or change in behaviour, please bring your child back to the Emergency Department.

Concussion - Preparing for surgery

Concussion - Post-surgery care

Concussion - Other Information

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