At pediatric offices across the nation, it is that time of year where we have a rush of sports physicals pouring in that need to be filled out for students wanting to enroll in a sport at their school. Physical activity is not only important for children’s physical health, but also for their social health while they learn important life lessons such as how to be a team player, what it means to be a “good sport”, and how to communicate with peers to reach an ultimate goal. While there are so many good things about being involved in sports, there are dangers to be aware of, as with anything we face in life! Dangers in sports activities are most known as broken bones and concussions. While broken bones are usually easily recognized, concussions are a bit more vague, making them difficult to identify but are equally as important to treat.
If your child is playing sports, whether in a game or at practice, and they lose consciousness or begin vomiting as a result of a head injury, immediately take them to be evaluated at the emergency room. According to Dr. Solari, if a person is hit in the head so hard that it causes them to lose consciousness or vomit, they probably have a concussion. But what about when your child hits his head hard, but does not lose consciousness? Is a concussion still a possibility? Dr. Solari says yes! If your child gets a hard blow to the head and is groggy, dizzy, light-headed or complains of a headache, remove your child from play immediately for the duration of the game or practice and schedule an appointment to be checked by your doctor the next day.
If it is determined that your child has a concussion, Dr. Solari stated that the child must not participate in any sports activities of any kind until all symptoms of the concussion have resolved. Some of these symptoms that must resolve may not appear until 24-72 hours after the injury. These symptoms are things such as blurred vision, trouble walking, problems remembering, irritability, or changes in normal sleep patterns. Once all symptoms of a concussion have resolved, your child can begin gradually working back in to sports activities, practices and games. If you begin to identify any of the symptoms returning during this time, you must pull your child back from the activities.
It is incredibly important to follow the treatment plan after your child has suffered a concussion. Children sometimes see doctors and coaches (and sometimes even their parents) as “the bad guys” because they will not allow them to participate until they are completely healed. This is not the case! Coaches are constantly getting more information and training on how to identify and treat concussions to protect the players that they care about. Doctors have devoted their lives to keeping people alive and healthy. Children need to know that when their coach or doctor tells them to take a break from sports, it is in their absolute best interest! If they do not follow the treatment plan and they begin playing again before their brain is ready, they could suffer what is known as Second-Impact Syndrome (a second concussion that occurs before the first has completely resolved) which can cause life-long problems and possibly even death. Their authority figures are not trying to be mean, but are only trying to protect them to live a full and happy life!
Keeping children safe is most important to coaches, pediatricians, and parents alike. Keeping a look-out for these symptoms and following treatment plans are critical to the health of your young athlete! While it may feel better to make your child avoid sports all-together, children highly benefit from getting involved in sports and the chances of a child getting a concussion from school-organized sports is very low. So have some fun and – let’s play ball!