Kids and Concussions
Before your kids hit the field or court for fall sports, some important information parents should know is that coaches, referees, parents, and players of organized youth sports are required to have education on head injuries before they begin their seasons – it’s the law. While youth sports are responsible for a large percentage of concussions, kids can also get a concussion doing many other things such as playing on a playground.
“A concussion is a functional traumatic brain injury. It may occur with or without losing consciousness,” explained Dr. Alison Brooks, MD, MPH, UW Health Sports Medicine. Years ago, people would describe a head injury as “getting their bell rung” or “getting dinged”.
Dr. Brooks cautions that this type of casual view of head injuries is dangerous. Concussions can be caused from direct impact, but many happen without any contact to the head. A sudden stop, such as a fall to the ground or two players running directly into each other, even without hitting heads, can cause a concussion.
ImPACT testing at UW Health Sports Medicine
UW Health Sports Medicine has expanded its concussion treatment program by offering ImPACT testing to local and regional athletes through the schools. This is a computer-based testing program designed for the management of sports-related concussions. It records an athlete’s health history, current symptoms and other important information. Dr. Brooks mentions that there are many tools that they use to manage concussions.
Returning to play or activities Dr. Brooks stresses that is important for the parent to be an active participant in the child’s healing process. It is easy to lose sight of what is most important and parents may feel pressure to let a child not follow the treatment plan. The return to the field or sport comes after the child has returned to their normal daily activities and school and not until the doctor says it’s safe.