What do I do if I suspect a concussion?
A concussion is any injury to the brain that changes the way your brain works. It is caused by hitting your head or body, causing your head to move back and forth, causing your brain to hit the inside of your skull damaging the cells in the brain. Thankfully, just like any other part of your body that sustains a more mild injury, your brain does heal.
The most important thing to do if you think you may have sustained a concussion is to avoid any activity that may cause a re-injury. Since many concussions occur during sports, it is important to stop playing if a concussion is suspected.
Monitor you child for any of the following red flags; if you notice any of these things, go to the Emergency Room immediately.
- Loss of Consciousness for greater than 1 minute
- Uneven muscle weakness or sensory loss
- Severe loss of balance (staggering or unable to stand/walk)
- Repeated vomiting
- Continued amnesia or confusion in over one hour
- Symptoms continue to worsen in severity despite rest
Often symptoms of a concussion are not as extreme as the above red flags. After a potential concussion, it is very helpful to talk to a medical professional trained in concussions. At school, this may be a school athletic trainer or nurse. It is also important to consult your pediatrician’s office (or on call nurse or doctor). After Hours Kids (open every evening, including weekends, from 6:30-10:30 PM) is another option for evaluation of a potential concussion. An initial discussion of symptoms with a medical professional is important to ensure your child does not need to be seen in the emergency room.
After a head injury, it is best to stay home from school until symptoms are improved in the morning. Also, we recommend no contact activities. A provider that specializes in pediatric concussions can offer guidance as to when it is safe to return to contact activities and can offer patient specific academic accommodations. Until evaluated, it is important to get plenty of sleep at night, but it is not necessary to stay in a dark room and avoid all contact with people and activities. Keeping a usual routine, as much as possible, is helpful to facilitate concussion recovery. Quiet, non-contact activities that do not worsen symptoms are recommended.