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Concussion Diagnosis for Your Child

Many of our children participate in various sports. Sports like football and other contact sports are sometimes avoided by parents to protect their children from concussions. However, a concussion is possible with even the softest of a knock to the head.

So as a concerned parent, what should be looking for to diagnose and seek further medical attention?

What is a Concussion?

A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury from a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or body that causes:

  • The head and brain to move quickly back and forth

  • The brain to bounce or twist in the skull from this sudden movement

  • Chemical changes in the brain, and sometimes stretching and damage to the brain cells.

What Are the Signs & Symptoms of a Concussion?

Someone with a concussion might be knocked out (this is called a loss of consciousness). But a person doesn't have to get knocked out to have a concussion.

Signs and symptoms of a concussion include:

  • Headache

  • Blurred or double vision

  • Dizziness

  • Balance problems or trouble walking

  • Confusion and saying things that don't make sense

  • Being slow to answer questions

  • Slurred speech

  • Nausea or vomiting

  • Not remembering what happened

  • Not feeling well

How Will My Child Feel?

Concussion symptoms may appear during the normal healing process, and will generally improve over time. Most people with a concussion feel better within a couple of weeks. Some symptoms may appear right away, while other symptoms may not appear for hours or days after the injury. Your child may not realize they have some symptoms until they try to do their usual activities. You may notice changes before your child does. If there are any symptoms that concern you or are getting worse, your child may need immediate care. Be sure to talk with your child’s doctor.

Concussions do not show up on a CAT scan or MRI. So, the doctor is the best neurologist. They may not order a brain scan for a mild concussion but a CAT scan or MRI might be done to look for other problems if someone:

Was knocked out

Keeps vomiting

Has a severe headache or a headache that gets worse

Was injured in a serious accident, such as from a car accident or very high fall

What Steps and Actions Should Be Taken?

  • Seek advice from a neurologist near you

  • Take it easy the first few days after the injury when symptoms are more severe

  • As your child starts to feel better (and within a few days after the injury), they can gradually return to regular (non-strenuous) activities

  • When symptoms are mild and nearly gone, return to most regular activities

  • Recovery from a concussion is when your child is able to do all of their regular activities without experiencing any of the concussion symptoms.

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