The Role of Diagnostic Imaging in Young Athletes with Concussions
Concussions have received a lot of attention recently due to the rising awareness within the NFL, the passing of concussion laws for youth and school athletes in all 50 states, and the 2015 movie “Concussion” with Will Smith.
The conversation is important because concussions are a form of traumatic brain injury (TBI) and can alter the way the brain functions. Early research shows that a developing child’s or adolescent’s brain is even more vulnerable to impact than an adult brain.
While there are protocols for sports leagues and school athletic programs around concussions, as a parent you also have to know what to look for and ask the questions:
- When is it safe for my child to return to play without aggravating the symptoms or prolonging recovery?
- What kind of emotional impact can I expect during recovery as my child is isolated from peers and may be dealing with anxiety or depression?
Learn about youth football and concussions below:
Be sure you know what to look for and participate in the decision regarding when and if your child can return to play.
What to look for from the sidelines
How can you tell if your child has had a concussion? Parents may think they know the signs and symptoms, but did you know only about 10% of concussions result in loss of consciousness? Here's what parents should be looking for:
- Appears dazed or stunned
- Confused about assignment or position
- Forgets sports plays
- Unsure of game, score or opponent
- Moves clumsily
- Answers questions slowly
- Loses consciousness (even briefly)
- Shows behavior or personality changes
- Can’t recall events prior to hit or fall
- Can’t recall events after hit or fall
What your child may experience
If your child complains of any of the following or exhibits these symptoms, pull him/her out of play:
- Headache or “pressure” in head
- Nausea or vomiting
- Balance problems or dizziness
- Double or blurry vision
- Sensitivity to light
- Sensitivity to noise
- Feeling sluggish, hazy, foggy or groggy
- Concentration or memory problems
- Does not “feel right”
When to turn to medical imaging
If you notice symptoms, such as a severe headache, seizures, repeated vomiting or other worsening issues, medical imaging may be the appropriate next step, so it’s important to talk to your medical provider. He or she can use the imaging results to better understand any change that is occurring in your athlete’s brain as a result of continuous small hits, concussions or other serious brain injuries.
A proper diagnosis following an injury may help keep kids safe and allow them to enjoy sports throughout their lives.