Unless you just aren’t a sports person, you are aware of the press that concussions have gotten in the professional football arena these days. What you may not know, is that the data is beginning to surface regarding young athletes and concussions as well. These concussions are not limited to football either. While football may still be the leader in young athlete traumatic brain injuries, most sports still involve risk. In the U.S. alone, approximately 180,000 sports-related concussions result in emergency room visits each year. Many more go unreported, or worse yet, unrecognized, and an estimated 1.6-3.8 million concussions have taken place.
In the past we looked at concussion as a “bell ringer.” The child may be taken out of the game if it was deemed “serious enough,” but many children returned to the game prematurely and without proper screening. A concussion is a traumatic brain injury (TBI) that changes the way the brain functions. While many different motions can result in concussion, it is caused from rapid acceleration/deceleration of the cranium. The brain collides with the walls of the skull resulting in bruising and inflammation of brain tissue.
If your child suffers such a blow to the head or body, he or she should be monitored by a professional health care provider trained in concussion care. Most of the time, concussion will not leave a child with any permanent effects. But for others, the symptoms may last for days, weeks, and in severe cases result in permanent deficit.
Common signs of concussion are a dazed or disoriented appearance, forgetting instructions, delayed responses and forgetfulness, mood or behavior changes, and loosing awareness of the day or time. If these symptoms are present, a health care professional must be involved. The child should not be sent back into play until they are completely symptom free and cleared by a trained provider.
Second impact syndrome can be fatal:
Second impact is when an athlete returns to play prematurely, before the brain swelling and inflammation has gone down, and sustains a second blow. This may cause severe encephalitis and kills young athletes every year. No game, from pee-wee to pro, is worth it.
Concussion and other collisions can also result in major problems in the cervical spine that can cause issues for the child, immediately or in the future. If your child has taken a hit that concerns you, I strongly recommend having the child’s neck and spine checked by someone trained in the treatment of concussions and the cervical spine such as a chiropractor. Very specific X-rays may be necessary to evaluate the extent of the injury.
If your child or someone you know has had their “bell rung” (recently or in the past), or your child will be playing sports this season, please consider this information. As always, we are here if assistance is needed.
Dr. W.C. Verch runs Carolina West Clinic of Chiropractic, 1112 Calhoun Street, Newberry, you can reach him at 803-597-5099.