A heads up on concussions

The number on concussions among athletes has more than doubled during the last decade.

The number on concussions among athletes has more than doubled during the last decade.

Every year, hundreds of thousands of kids are treated for sports- and recreation-related brain injuries, including concussions, in emergency rooms across the USA. Among high school athletes, the rate of concussions more than doubled between 2005 and 2012, according to a recent study. Researchers suspect the uptick reflects an increased awareness.

Here’s what you need to know:

Loss of consciousness isn’t the only sign

Blackouts occur in less than 10% of people with concussions, according to the American Academy of Neurology (AAN). Headache, loss of memory and confusion are among the most common signs; others include dizziness, blurred vision, nausea or vomiting, sensitivity to light and sound, feeling dazed and sleep problems. Also watch for changes in your child’s behavior or personality, as well as concentration complaints. New research out of Boston Children’s Hospital found such emotional or mental symptoms linger longer in kids who suffer a concussion.

Stop play post-injury

Any athlete with a suspected concussion should be removed from a game or a practice right away and not return until assessed by a health professional, according to updated AAN concussion guidelines. AAN also recommends getting back into the sport gradually, only after acute symptoms have completely disappeared. The guidlines also say that kids and teens should be managed more conservatively because they take longer to recover than college athletes. Your little one may also need to ease back into the classroom, depending on the severity of symptoms. Work with your doctor and school officials to determine the best plan.

Encourage good sportsmanship

You know it’s important to wear protective headgear; playing clean and following the rules can also prevent concussions.

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