by Dr. Christopher Woodward
From football to cheerleading to soccer, fall sports are beginning again. With your child back on the field, it’s important to separate urban legend from the truth when it comes to concussions.
Myth #1: Concussions aren’t really dangerous, and your child can return to play quickly after diagnosis.
Concussions are a serious medical issue. After even a mild concussion, it’s important that your child has time to heal. The length of that time is based on the symptoms. If your child is continuing to show symptoms such as headaches or nausea, they are not ready for extensive activity.
Myth #2: Concussions require testing.
Diagnosing a concussion is not dependent on a medical test because damage from a concussion is so microscopic it is usually not seen in a CT scan. A CT scan, or computerized tomography scan, uses a series of X-ray images and computer processing to create cross-sectional images of bones, blood vessels and soft tissues, providing a more detailed report than traditional X-rays. If your child has any neurological symptoms, technically they have a concussion. These symptoms range from losing consciousness to mild headaches or nausea. Other symptoms include confusion, memory loss, dizziness, ringing in the ears, fatigue or lack of coordination. If your child is showing any of these signs after a head injury, they may have a concussion and should see a doctor.
Myth #3: It’s important to keep a child with a concussion awake.
This myth probably comes from a time before CT scans, when more serious head injuries like bleeding, were harder to diagnose. After your child is seen by a doctor, diagnosed and given the proper treatment and instruction, there is no reason to keep them awake. Cognitive rest will help a child with a concussion heal quickly and effectively.
Myth #4: Football is the only sport that comes with a risk of concussions.
Children and adults can get a concussion in any sport or activity, including baseball, swimming, biking,ATV riding and other activities. Research shows that children playing sports other than football are actually more likely to get concussions than football players.
Truth: You should always take a child to a doctor after any head trauma.
If your child is showing any symptoms of a concussion, such as headaches, confusion, memory loss, dizziness, ringing in the ears, fatigue, nausea or lack of coordination, they should see a doctor. While waiting for a doctor’s office to open is usually okay, it will be dependent on the severity of the trauma. Regardless, taking a child with a concussion to the doctor after their accident ensures no further damage has been done.
If your child is active in sports, it’s important to know the signs of a concussion and when to see a doctor. Always follow all instructions given by the doctor to ensure your child is able to heal fully and return to normal activity.
For more information about the signs and symptoms of a concussion, read my Recognizing Symptoms of a Concussion blog post.
About Dr. Woodward
Christopher Woodward, DO is a doctor of osteopathic medicine who treats children in Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Emergency Department. He is board certified in Emergency Medicine and Pediatric Emergency Medicine. Dr. Woodward received his Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine degree from Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences in Kansas City, MO. He completed his emergency medicine residency at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center’s Earl K. Long hospital in Baton Rouge, LA.
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