Concussion in Kids

A concussion is a potentially serious brain injury that can occur because of an impact to the head or body. Read on to learn what a concussion is and how you can tell if your child has one. We will also discuss when you should seek medical help and what treatment and recovery are like.

At SportsSafe: Pediatric Concussion Clinic in Austin, Texas, we offer diagnostic services and treatment options for children with the symptoms of a concussion. Parents in the Austin, Texas area can make an appointment by contacting our office today!

Children getting hard hit in football and getting a cooncussion.

What is a Concussion?

A concussion is a mild traumatic brain injury that affects the way the brain functions. It can lead to symptoms such as headache, dizziness, and confusion. After a few days or up to a month, your child’s symptoms will usually go away. During this time, rest and a gradual return to school and regular activities are necessary. However, their symptoms could last longer.

How Can I Tell if My Child Has a Concussion?

Your child’s symptoms might begin right after the initial injury or develop after hours to days. Symptoms of a concussion can include:

  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Headache
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Vision changes
  • Trouble walking and talking
  • Not remembering before or after the injury
  • Not remembering the injury
  • Feeling sluggish

Your child might also have difficulties focusing or learning, sleep problems, anxiety, or sadness. Your child could have a concussion regardless of whether they have been knocked out or not.

What Happens When Your Child Has a Concussion?

A concussion occurs when your child’s brain is injured. This can happen with a blow to the head, such as a fall or knock. Concussions can also occur without your child’s head being hit.

For example, in a car accident, the head can forcefully move forward and back, causing chemical and blood flow changes in the brain. These changes can cause concussion symptoms.

How Do Kids Get Concussions?

Kids and teens are more likely to get concussions while playing sports. Cheerleaders and kids who play football, ice hockey, lacrosse, field hockey, and soccer are at the greatest risk. However, young athletes in any sport can get a concussion.

Kids may also get a concussion from a car or bike accident, a fall, a fight, or any other activity that could lead to a head injury.

When to Call Your PCP

If you suspect your child has a concussion, you should immediately stop the activity and monitor your child. If you notice any of the following symptoms, you should seek immediate medical attention:

  • Loss of consciousness for more than 1 minute
  • Severe loss of balance
  • Uneven muscle Weakness or sensory loss
  • Repeated vomiting (2 or more times)
  • Continued amnesia or confusion for more than 1 hour
  • Symptoms continue to worsen in severity

You should first seek out an on-site provider, such as the athletic trainer or school nurse. Then you should contact your primary care provider for evaluation. At SportsSafe, we can evaluate a concussion 3-5 days after an injury.

Diagnosis of a Concussion

A child who has a moderate to severe head injury needs to have it checked by a healthcare provider. A concussion in kids is diagnosed by:

  • Asking about how and when the head injury happened
  • Asking about symptoms
  • Testing memory and concentration
  • Doing an exam and testing balance, coordination, and reflexes

A CAT scan or MRI cannot diagnose a concussion. However, your healthcare provider may order these tests for the following reasons:

  • Your child was knocked out
  • They keep vomiting
  • They have a severe headache or a headache that gets worse
  • The injury was caused by a car crash or a very high fall

Treatment and Recovery

If the concussion doesn’t present severe symptoms, it could be treated through rest and a gradual return to activities. Most kids recover well following a mild head injury. It’s best to keep the following points in mind during recovery:

  1. For the first few days, physical activity and activities that require concentration should be cut back.
  2. Let your child rest or sleep as much as they need in the first few days.
  3. Avoid screen time for at least 2 days.
  4. Introduce light activities, such as walking, after a day or two.
  5. Avoid sports and other risk factors until an appropriate healthcare provider has cleared you.
  6. Take precautions to prevent multiple concussions, as they can have lasting effects on the brain.

What Else to Keep in Mind About Concussions

It’s crucial never to rush your child back to activity after a concussion. Your child needs your understanding and encouragement through recovery to ensure a safe return to sports and activity.

Also, remember to get clearance from an appropriate healthcare provider before returning to sports (this is part of Texas law). This will help to avoid another concussion. Repeated concussions can cause permanent brain changes.

Schedule an Appointment for Your Child Today

If you are concerned about the symptoms your child is displaying following a head injury, give us a call today! At the SportsSafe: Pediatric Concussion Clinic in Austin, TX, our Providers can provide the following:

  • A neurologic exam and injury assessment tests (cognitive, balance, and eye tracking).
  • Communication with school personnel (athletic trainers, coaches, nurses, academic advisors) relaying academic and athletic accommodations during the recovery process.
  • Clearance to return to sports and activities (Texas law requires any athlete with a suspected concussion to be seen and cleared by a physician before returning to play).

Book an appointment today!