Both of my boys played football growing up, and in between the games and practices, there is one thing I never thought about—mild traumatic brain injury (also called a concussion). Even Tom Brady’s dad has been quoted as saying:
“This head thing is frightening for little kids. There’s the physical part of it and the mental part – it’s becoming very clear there are very serious long-term ramifications.”
There is growing evidence that these mild brain injuries may build up during a person’s life. A study in the journal Brain Injury showed that athletes with multiple concussions were 7.7 times more likely to have a major drop in memory performance. And it’s not just the kids playing football who are taking the big hits. Smaller, repeat collisions can be just as dangerous, like during wrestling.
Sports can be great for kids. It teaches the life lessons that turn children into well-rounded adults, but as parents, we should more be diligent in recognizing the warning signs of a concussion. Here are some things parents should look out for:
- Clumsy movement or dizziness
- Nausea or vomiting
- Memory loss
- Upset stomach
- Vision problems
- Sensitivity to noise and light
- Numbness or tingling anywhere on the body
- Cannot think clearly or remember things
The best thing for a child or teen with a concussion is rest, and lots of it. Once he is diagnosed with a concussion, he will need cognitive rest. That means no homework, no TV, no texting and no sports! Unfortunately, this is everything kids love. Well, not the homework.
And, I know it can be difficult for players to sit out of important games. I cannot stress this enough—it is absolutely necessary to wait until a doctor has cleared your child to play. Even if he says he’s fine, even if she’s in the state championship, they need to sit it out. I’ve treated kids who have reinjured themselves, and often times, they have to sit out for the rest of the season.
Has your child ever had a concussion? What was it like for him, or her, to sit out during game day?