Monday, August 12, 2013

Heads Up!

by Leigh-Anne Cioffredi, MD/MPH


As the summer winds down and the school year approaches there’s an increasing ability for kids to get active, particularly in sports.  One of the most important safety concerns related to increased activity is concussion prevention.  

A concussion occurs when there is a blow to the head causing the head to move rapidly back and forth.  This can injure the brain causing a mild traumatic brain injury.  They can occur in any sport, in a motor vehicle accident, diving into the pool or simply falling down on a hard floor, so it’s important to know how to recognize them. 

To help recognize a concussion, you should watch for the following two things:

1.      A forceful blow to the head or body resulting in a rapid movement of the head,

AND

2.      Any change in the child’s behavior, thinking, or physical functioning – this includes changes in memory, nausea and vomiting, headache or just not feeling right. 

If you suspect your child has suffered a concussion it is important to seek medical attention.

Importantly there are ways to prevent concussions. 
  • Be sure to fasten the seat belt while riding in a car.  Set a good example and fasten your own, and make sure you child has fastened theirs correctly.
  • Make sure your child wears appropriate protective gear during recreational activities.  It is important to make sure the equipment fits properly.  This is the only way to ensure the most protection. 
  • When bicycling, or engaging in any recreational activity that may result in head injury such as football, hockey, skiing or snowboarding, wear protective headgear.
  • Use pool safety: Do not allow you child to dive in water shallower than 9 feet deep. 
  • Most importantly if your child suffers from a concussion, do not allow them to return to play until their symptoms have resolved.  It is very dangerous to return to play before the brain has had time to heal fully.  Though this is often not an easy task, especially with an active child, it is the most important step in preventing another concussion and further brain injury. 

For more information on concussion visit the following websites: