Sports Concussions Require Serious Attention

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NEWARK—The American Journal of Sports Medicine reports that young athletes who suffer concussions are routinely sent back into the game too soon, risking further injury and possible long-term effects.

With school sports in full swing, parents and athletes should be aware the risk of head injury. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) “Heads Up: Concussion in Youth Sports program” urges parents to watch for concussions as their kids head onto the field.

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“Continuing to play sports after a possible head injury puts the player at risk for long-term damage to the brain,” reports Michael Rosen, MD, Pediatric Director of the Emergency Department at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center and Children’s Hospital of New Jersey.

What is a concussion?
Concussion is a head trauma caused by the violent rocking back and forth of the brain inside of the skull that occurs with a sudden blow to the head or upper body. Concussion accounts for about six percent of all sports-related injuries among children ages 5 through 18. For boys, the greatest danger is on the gridiron; for girls, the soccer field poses the biggest hazard.

Extra care needed after a concussion occurs
Studies have shown that high school athletes with a history of two or more concussions may be at risk for long-term cognitive impairment. In addition, in some rare instances, a blow to the head can result in bleeding, swelling of the brain, or death.

Know concussion symptoms
Symptoms of a concussion can show up right after the injury, or may not appear until several days or weeks later. If your child reports any symptoms of concussion, or if you notice the symptoms yourself, seek medical attention right away.

Symptoms include:

  • Appears dazed or stunned
  • Has a headache or feels “pressure” in head
  • Is nauseated or is vomiting
  • Has balance problems or dizziness
  • Is seeing double or has blurry vision
  • Has sensitivity to light and/or noise
  • Feels sluggish, hazy, foggy or groggy
  • Is experiencing concentration or memory problems
  • Is confused
  • Does not “feel right”

What to do if your child is hit in head while playing sports
If your child receives a blow to the head during sports, the CDC and The Emergency Department at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center recommend that you:

  • Seek medical attention right away.
  • Keep your child out of play. Concussions take time to heal, especially in young athletes.
  • Inform the coaches about any recent concussion.
  • Step in. As a parent, it is up to you – not your child and not the coach – to say when your child can return to the field.

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