Everything Parents Need to Know about Concussions


By: , – Lambeth Hochwald, Family Circle
  :  8 comments   :  11,642 Views

Maybe you know someone whose teenager has suffered a brain injury playing sports—a colleague at work, the neighbor down the block, your BFF from college. Would you recognize the signs if your child had a concussion? What you don't know could hurt him.
Sports-and recreation-related brain injuries have led to a 60% increase in ER visits among kids 19 and younger over the last decade. Test your knowledge of concussions. Take our quiz. 
1. True or False

The number of concussions among kids isn't actually rising, and the scary headlines are mostly media hype.Fact is, there's genuine reason for concern. A 2011 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that there were an estimated 173,000 ER visits annually among kids 19 and younger due to sports- and recreation-related brain injuries, including concussions—a 60% jump over the prior decade. At Boston Children's Hospital alone, concussion-patient visits per month have increased 15-fold in the last five years. Dozens of youth concussion clinics have reportedly opened in nearly 35 states since 2010, and the problem is so severe that last fall the Institute of Medicine launched a sweeping 15-month study of sports-related concussions—and their link to both short- and long-term health issues—in kids from elementary school through early adulthood. ANSWER: FALSE

2. A concussion is defined as: 
  1. Any knock or blow to the head 
  2. A traumatic, usually temporary brain injury that disrupts cerebral function. The brain consists of soft tissue, which is cushioned from everyday bumps by the cerebrospinal fluid it floats in. Concussions occur when there's a jolting impact to the head or body, which may cause the brain to slide against the inner skull wall. That can result in bruising, blood vessel damage and nerve impairment, all of which can affect mental stamina and make the brain work longer and harder to complete even simple tasks. ANSWER: 2
3. True or False

Even though my kids don't play contact sports, they're still at risk. While football-related concussions tend to get the most attention (they account for 41% of the concussions experienced by high school athletes), the most common cause of concussion-related ER visits for kids 19 and younger is bicycle accidents, says the CDC. For girls ages 10 to 19, concussions occurred most often while cycling or playing soccer or basketball. "Any accident with significant impact to the head—a player-to-player collision, getting hit with equipment or falling hard on the ground—can cause a brain injury," says Kevin Walter, M.D., cofounder of the Sports Concussion Program at the Children's Hospital of Wisconsin in Milwaukee. ANSWER: TRUE

4. Which of the following is a sign that your teen has a concussion? 

A) Confusion or fogginess
B) Loss of consciousness
C) Sensitivity to light and sound
D) Depression or psychological changes
E) Amnesia
F) Any of the above 

Confounding as it may be, there is no definitive test for concussion. Diagnosis is based on a neurological exam by a physician. Symptoms can differ widely: They may be subtle or severe, immediate or delayed, and last for days or weeks. Headache, dizziness and disorientation are the most common, while less than 5% of kids lose consciousness, according to research. The severity of any amnesia, however, may be one of the main indicators of the degree of injury. "If a child can't remember the first part of the game or doesn't remember getting home afterward, he should be evaluated for concussion," says Jeffrey Kutcher, M.D., associate professor of neurology at University of Michigan Medical School and director of the Michigan NeuroSport Concussion Program. Whenever your child sustains a blow to the head, monitor him for 24 hours to make sure he's behaving and responding normally. If he's not, see a doctor immediately. ANSWER: F
Click here for more information on teen concussions from Family Circle. 
More from Family Circle:
 Do know the signs of a concussion? What is your experience with your children? 

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  • 8
    Dealing with this issue now. My daughter fell off a horse Thursday night, I wasn't told about it until Friday when she was having horrible headaches. ( she is fine now) So both husband and daughter got about an hour long lecture on head injuries and going to bed immediately ( with in a few hours after) Friday night. Don't think either will make that mistake again...and yes she did get right back on the horse :) - 3/30/2014   6:12:57 PM
    When I was looking for information on concussions I stumbled across this article, which was a great overview: www. pazoo.com/health/concussions-part-1
    -what-is-a-concussion/ - 3/25/2014   9:58:07 PM
  • 6
    Good article. I thought that it was funny mentioning bicycle accidents. I broke my head when I got hit by a car, as did my sister. My fracture was behind the ear and my sister in the forehead and our injuries were obvious - full coma.

    My daughter now rides with us - with a helmet. Many cars do not move over for cyclists and I had to point out to some friends that by law, a bicycle is supposed to share the road with cars and are not supposed to be on sidewalks. Considering that I had a second car vs bike accident with a broken shoulder and hip, they say I have a bulls-eye on me.

    Please spread the word to watch for cyclists. Also, a head injury is nothing to fool with. - 3/20/2014   7:55:49 AM
  • 5
    This is a very poorly formatted article. I can't figure out which part of the first "question" is false, and which is the support for why it's false. The rest aren't quite as bad, but still very confusing. - 9/5/2013   12:36:35 PM
  • 4
    Sometimes kids can sustain injuries while young and things show up in adulthood. - 9/4/2013   10:22:22 PM
  • 3
    Not only sports. My son was walking by the door in the bathroom, hit his vagal nerve on he elbow, felt woozy, sat on the toilet to make it go away, passed out, slid down and cracked the back of his head on the water reservoir on the toilet then fell and twisted hitting the bathtub. We found him in a seizure and voila - head injured. We think his anger issues have increased since then - very volatile now but learning to control it when he feels it....the one benefit is that he is not as distracted now and he can focus more on the task at hand - we'd noticed that portion but hadn't really thought much about it until another article stated that point about the compensation the brain makes in that regard. - 9/4/2013   12:20:41 PM
  • 2
    My son didn't play sports, either, but he still suffered a concussion from goofing around on my stability ball, losing his balance and falling over backwards, hitting the fireplace hearth. That has been 3.5 years ago and some effects will probably never go away. These include vision issues, migraines and sleep problems. - 9/4/2013   8:58:36 AM
  • 1
    One of the good things of having a total geek for a son, no concussion inducing sports! - 9/3/2013   7:54:39 PM

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