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Kids and Concussions

concussionsConcussions are a hot topic right now thanks to the NFL and media, but concussions aren’t limited to burly football players.  Kids, with their rambunctious non-stop activity, are actually prime candidates for concussions, so moms need to know the signs and treatment for this dangerous condition.

I happen to be a really slow learner when it comes to concussions.  When my daughter was 2, she was running across our hardwood floors with only socks on her feet.  I saw her slip, fly into the air, then drop from a prone position about 2-3 feet.  It made a terrible thud as she slammed into the floor.  She cried and cried, then calmed down.  In fact, she got very sleepy.  Oh, I guess she’s ready for a nap, I thought to myself and tucked her into bed.  About an hour later she awoke vomiting. That’s weird!  Now she has a stomach bug.  Good grief, first she slams into the floor, then she gets a virus- this is not her day!  I started complaining about my daughter’s rotten luck to a friend when suddenly my friend interrupted me and said, “I think your daughter might have a concussion!”

A light bulb went off in my head.  It all made sense.  I couldn’t believe the thought of a concussion didn’t even cross my mind before.  I called the pediatrician who listened to my daughter’s symptoms and sent us to a children’s ER for a CAT scan.  I was pregnant at the time, so my husband held our little girl as they examined her brain for injury.  Thankfully, it was only a mild concussion, and the treatment was rest.

Because a concussion is an injury to the brain, it is very important to call your child’s doctor if you suspect they might have one.  Sometimes a concussion is an obvious emergency situation, such as times when consciousness is lost or a seizure occurs.  But most of the time, parents might not even be aware of a concussion because the symptoms are mild.  If your child has had even a slight injury to the head and exhibits any of the following symptoms, call the pediatrician!

  • dizziness
  • blurred vision/trouble focusing
  • headache
  • nausea and vomiting
  • trouble with balance or coordination
  • slurred speech
  • confusion/trouble concentrating

I told you I was a slow learner, right?  Just last month my daughter, who is now 13, fell backward from the dining table landing squarely on her back (and head) during our ski vacation.  We had been making the kids wear helmets while skiing, of course, to protect them from head injuries, and my husband joked that we should have made her wear hers to dinner.  She felt a bit off the rest of the evening complaining of a stomach ache.  The next morning she began vomiting repeatedly for hours as we drove home.  (Another story for another day regarding the worst car trip in the history of man…)  Again, it was a friend, another adult on the trip, who said “I think your daughter might have a concussion.”

I called the pediatrician to convey her symptoms.  However, this time, because she had diarrhea and no issues with coordination or any other signs of concussion, the pediatrician concluded it was probably a virus and told us to watch her.  The next day, my son got sick, too, confirming the diagnosis of virus.

It really bothered me that I had not even thought it might be a concussion even though there was evidence that it was a possibility.  That’s why I am writing this today.  We moms need to be aware of how common (and serious) concussions are and call our pediatricians when there’s even a chance our child might have one.  The pediatrician can listen to the symptoms and let us know if we need to take further action.  The good news is most concussions are easily treated with rest.  But it is very important to diagnose them and determine their severity.  Moms of student athletes definitely need to be aware.  But as my experience proves, every mom needs to know the signs and symptoms of concussions because any child can get one!



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