How in the know are you when it comes to your child getting a concussion? Are you aware of the seriousness of an accident that involves a Traumatic Brain Injury? Did you know that almost half a million emergency visits for Traumatic Brain Injury that occur each year are among children aged 0 to 14 years. Scary, I know I can't imagine what runs through a parents head when you are faced with such a life threatening accident.
I have never personally witnessed someone get a concussion. But I have heard friends and family say "don't let them fall asleep" after someone has been hurt and hit their head. I am embarrassed to say that this is not the information that will keep my own children safe. I have not been educated on the importance of a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) or concussion. With the help of The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s I feel more at ease, especially since I am the mother of three boys ten, two and a newborn. And even more serious my ten year old spends countless hours practicing and playing little league while my two year old is almost always nearby.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) has a great Heads Up program to learn more initiatives and to order your own materials, visit http://www.cdc.gov/concussion.
A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury—or TBI—caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or by a hit to the body that causes the head and brain to move rapidly back and forth. This sudden movement can literally cause the brain to bounce around or twist in the skull, stretching and damaging the brain cells and creating chemical changes in the brain. What you might not know is that these chemical changes make the brain more vulnerable to further injury. During this window of vulnerability the brain is more sensitive to any increased stress or injury, until it fully recovers. Children and teens are more likely to get a concussion or TBI and take longer to recover than adults.
If you believe a child is a victim of a concussion or TBI follow these rules:
1. Keep your teen out of play. If your child or teen has a concussion, her/his brain needs time to heal. Don’t let your child or teen return to play the day of the injury and until a health care professional, experienced in evaluating for concussion, says he or she is symptom-free and it’s OK to return to play. A repeat concussion that occurs before the brain recovers from the first—usually within a short period of time (hours, days, or weeks)—can slow recovery or increase the likelihood of having long-term problems. In rare cases, repeat concussions can result in edema (brain swelling), permanent brain damage, and even death.
2. Seek medical attention right away. A health care professional experienced in evaluating for concussion will be able to decide how serious the concussion is and when it is safe for your child or teen to return to sports.
3. Teach your child or teen that it’s not smart to play with a concussion. Rest is key after a concussion. Sometimes athletes wrongly believe that it shows strength and courage to play injured. Discourage others from pressuring injured athletes to play. Don’t let your child or teen convince you that s/he’s “just fine.”
4. Tell all of your child or teen’s coaches and the school nurse about ANY concussion. Coaches, school nurses, and other school staff should know if your child or teen has ever had a concussion. Your child or teen may need to limit activities while s/he is recovering from a concussion. Things such as studying, driving, working on a computer, playing video games, or exercising may cause concussion symptoms to reappear or get worse. Talk to your health care professional, as well as your child or teen’s coaches, school nurse, and teachers. If needed, they can help adjust your child or teen’s school activities during her/his recovery.With that being said it is also important to keep your children safe before a concussion even occurs. My best advice to staying safe:
- Baseball fields are not a place to have your children not paying attention or listening. Pop flies, foul balls, home runs and even a game of catch these are all dangerous for a child who is not paying attention.
- Wearing the proper safety equipment i.e. helmets when riding a bike, skate boarding, etc...
- playing outside without supervision is key for disaster keep your kids safe. With older ones that don't need extra supervision how about having a window open to hear them in an emergency
- Any physical activity requires the up most caution and respect keep your kids safe and make them aware of the dangers
If you are a parent, coach, or athlete and have any thoughts I encourage you to share your stories or ask CDC questions at www.facebook.com/cdcheadsup.
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