Sports are a great way for children and teenagers to stay well, engage in physical activity and improve their performance at school however some sports do place children at risk of injuries. One of the more common types of injury a child or teenager may sustain is a concussion. This is a traumatic type of brain injury which occurs when a child receives a bump, knock, blow or jolt to the head, causing the brain to move quickly inside the skull. It causes a rapid onset of injury to the brain, with most often a mild quick to resolve time course.
Sports associated with a higher risk of concussion include any contact sports or those that place your child at risk of falling and hitting their head. It is particularly high in the football codes (rugby union, rugby league, AFL) as well as netball, soccer, cricket, martial arts and snow sports.
After a head injury the brain has a temporary disruption to the amount of blood flow to the injured area and disruption to hormones in the cells of the brain. This causes the following symptoms and signs:
- appearing dazed or stunned or even having a brief loss of consciousness
- confusion about the score, their position or forgets an instruction
- moves clumsily or answers questions slowly
- is unable to recall events prior to or after a hit or fall
- demonstrates abnormal behavior
- complains of a headache, double vision, unsteadiness
- starts vomiting or feels nauseous
- feels sluggish and tired
Should you suspect your child has had a concussion they should be immediately removed from play and assessed by a doctor. Symptoms and signs of concussion often show up immediately after the injury however some symptoms may not show up for hours or days.
Warning signs of a more serious head injury that requires further medical assessment include:
- drowsiness or does not respond to your voice
- has ongoing vomiting or persistent headache
- slurred speech, weakness, numbness or decreased coordination
- new twitching, convulsions or seizures
After a concussion the brain needs time to heal and rest. During this period your healthcare provider needs to be actively involved in your child’s care to aide in a return to school, normal activities and sports. This is a gradual process, which needs to be carefully managed and monitored by a health care provider. Most importantly children with a concussion should not continue to play whilst the brain is healing. A repeat concussion after a recent head injury can be very serious and cause harm to your child.
If your child is unwell and you need to speak with an After hours GP download the My Emergency Dr App today to have an immediate consultation with a qualified specialist using our online app.