With school back in full swing, playgrounds and playing fields are once again abuzz with activity and, unfortunately, injuries.
Each year, an estimated 283,000 children visit an emergency department for sports- or recreation-related traumatic brain injuries (primarily concussions). Such injuries are most often sustained in contact sports such as football, basketball or soccer; but they can also occur during falls from bicycles, swing sets and many other activities.
“Parents, teachers and coaches should be aware that concussions do not always result from a direct hit to the head and usually do not involve loss of consciousness,” says Joseph Rempson, MD, co-medical director and co-founder of the Center for Concussion Care and Physical Rehabilitation at Overlook Medical Center, a statewide leader in managing mild to complex cases of concussion for more than a decade.
“When someone has an injury to the head, it’s important to promptly remove them from physical activity and look for changes in underlying behavior,” advises Dr. Rempson. “Symptoms of concussion may appear immediately or several days after the injury.”
What to Do
If you suspect a concussion, have your child evaluated by his or her pediatrician or – in an emergency – your nearest urgent care center or emergency department.
“No two individuals and no two concussions are alike,” observes Atlantic Medical Group neurologist Seth Stoller, MD, a national expert on concussion care who directs Atlantic Neuroscience Institute’s Headache Center and is one of a select few New Jersey physicians actively serving on the Sports Neurology section of the American Academy of Neurology. “We take an individualized, multidisciplinary approach to concussion care, whether we are treating a high school soccer goalie or a veteran NFL player.”
The paths to recovery, he explains, may include physical therapy, balance and visual therapy, nutrition counseling, neuropsychology, and coordination with teachers, trainers, coaches, and many other health care professionals.
“As a former student-athlete, I understand the desire to get back on the playing field as quickly as possible,” says Dr. Stoller, “but our priority is to return the student to the classroom first.”
Watch for these concussion symptoms:
- Sensitivity to light
- Fatigue or low energy
- Pressure in the head
- Sensitivity to noise
- Neck pain
- Feeling slowed down
- Nausea or vomiting Feeling in a fog
- Trouble falling asleep
- “Don’t feel right”
- Blurring vision
- Trouble concentrating
- Balance problems
- Trouble remembering