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Oregon Family Magazine

Concussion Awareness

10/01/2019 ● By Sandy Kauten
As Oregon coaches receive mandatory training to help recognize and respond to a student athlete’s possible concussion, understanding has radiated to parents of student athletes and even the young athletes themselves. However, those who are not involved in sports may lag in awareness. In fact, all children and teens are at risk of a concussion, with many sustained off the court or field.

The Center for Disease Control reports that sports and recreation activities with the greatest risk for concussion are, in order of greatest risk:

1. Bicycling

2. Football

3. Playground

4. Basketball

5. Soccer

6. All-terrain vehicle riding

7. Skateboarding

8. Swimming

9. Hockey

10. Miscellaneous ball games

Any blow to the head or to the body that involves the head, can cause a concussion, which is a mild form of traumatic brain injury – not something to take lightly. Physicians are quick to emphasize that signs of a concussion may not be obvious and that in most cases, a child doesnot lose consciousness. “If you have any concern that a child has experienced a concussion, remove them from play and seek medical care. Identification and appropriate early care helps kids recover faster,” counsels Pediatric Neuropsychologist Ryann Watson-Stites with Slocum Center’s Concussion program.

Concussion warning signs that should prompt a call to the doctor include:

• Headache

• Unable to think properly or concentrate, confusion

• Sleeping more or less than usual or feeling depressed or sad

• Feeling sick or vomiting

• Feeling dizzy or having problems with balance

• Sensitivity to noise or light

• Clumsy movements

Any of the following symptoms require immediate attention and you should go immediately to the ER or call 9-1-1:

  • Loss of consciousness or unable to wake up
  • Seizures
  • Loss of memory for more than 24 hour
  • One pupil larger than the other
  • Slurred speech
  • Vomiting

Children are more vulnerable to a concussion than an adult because their brains are developing. Most children recover from a concussion within a couple weeks, but some children have lasting impact. Because of this, physicians believe all parents should know the signs, and be ready to ask for help.

All that said, fear of a concussion should not prompt parents to avoid participation in healthy activities like biking or playing on the playground. “In this age of screens and childhood obesity, we must remember that the health benefits of physical activity including sports far outweigh the risk of concussion,” Dr. Watson-Stites emphasizes.