By Betsy Crick
A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury – or TBI – caused by a bump, blow or jolt to the head or by a hit to the body that causes the head and brain to move quickly back and forth. This fast movement can cause the brain to bounce around or twist in the skull, creating chemical changes in the brain and sometimes stretching and damaging the brain cells.
A concussion is the most common type of brain injury sustained in sports. When appropriate for the sport or activity, teach your children or teens that they must wear a helmet to lower the chances of the most serious types of brain or head injury. However, there is no “concussion-proof” helmet. So, even with a helmet, it is important for children and teens to avoid hits to the head.
How Can I Spot a Possible Concussion?
An athlete does not have to lose consciousness to sustain a concussion. Children and teens who show or report one or more of the signs and symptoms listed below – or simply say they just “don’t feel right” after a blow to the head or body – may have a concussion or other serious brain injury. Signs observed by parents or coaches:
- Appears dazed or stunned
- Forgets an instruction, is confused about an assignment or position, or is unsure of the game, score or opponent
- Moves clumsily
- Answers questions slowly
- Loses consciousness (even briefly)
- Shows mood, behavior, or personality changes
- Can’t recall events prior to or after a hit or fall
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers a free, online course available to coaches, parents, and others helping to keep athletes safe from concussion. It features interviews with leading experts, dynamic graphics and interactive exercises, and compelling storytelling to help you recognize a concussion and know how to respond if you think that your athlete might have a concussion. Once you complete the training and quiz, you can print out a certificate, making it easy to show your league or school you are ready for the season.
For more information on concussions and traumatic brain injury, please visit DHEC’s website.
A good checklist of signs to watch out for here. My child suffered a knock on the head when playing basketball and it seemed like such a small bump, but he was acting strangely for a few moments after the incident. We took him to the ER and thankfully, after observation, he was fine. Any small changes in personality or speech after an accident, get straight to the ER.