Children's Health

Brains & Brawn: Concussion in Children’s Sports

Back to school means back to sports. It’s great to see your child having fun on the field, but safety can be a big concern, especially since contact sports carry a risk of traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). Milder traumatic brain injuries are commonly called concussions. This season, learn everything you need to know to keep your little ones safe and happy while playing the sports they love.

What Is a TBI?

Matthew Propst, MD, sports medicine physician at CHI St. Joseph Health Orthopaedic Associates, says, “A concussion or traumatic brain injury (TBI) is caused by a direct or indirect force to the head that causes the brain to bounce or twist inside the skull. This injury to the brain can subsequently lead to changes in brain cells leading to altered brain chemistry.”

What Are the Signs of a TBI?

The signs vary significantly from injury to injury and depend on the severity of trauma. Some notable symptoms of a mild head injury are a headache, nausea, a spinning sensation, and a lightheaded feeling. Some signs of a more severe head injury include loss of consciousness, confusion, seizures, mood changes, memory loss, vomiting, and lack of balance, among others.

If you suspect even a mild head injury, you should seek immediate medical care to monitor for complications as soon as possible. However, sports games are often on Friday nights and Saturdays, when many sports medicine offices are closed for the weekend. Because we know time is of the essence when it comes to sports injuries, we offer weekend services through our Saturday Sports Injury Clinic. This clinic provides care for middle and high school students who need medical attention throughout the fall season.

How You Can Keep Your Child Safe

Prevention. Prevention is key when it comes to head trauma, so ensure your child wears all safety equipment necessary when playing sports. For contact sports like football, helmets are an especially important piece of safety equipment.

Spotting the Signs. Knowing what signs to look for can help you catch a head injury early. If your child is injured, check for the signs above. Always consult a medical professional if one or more of these symptoms are present.

Baseline Testing. Before the season starts, take your child for baseline testing. Baseline testing is a measure of the typical cognitive function of your uninjured child. If your child has a head injury, a qualified doctor can test current brain function against the uninjured brain function to determine if there are any changes. This helps doctors spot problems early on and allows them to provide the medical care needed to get your young athletes healthy.

Know where to take your child if a sports-related injury occurs. The experienced sports medicine team at CHI St. Joseph Health has the tools your family needs to enjoy the benefits of sports while staying safe. Our team is proud to welcome Dr. Matthew Propst, our new specialist in non-surgical sports medicine and orthopedics. Schedule an appointment with Dr. Propst and our sports medicine team today!


Sources:
CDC | TBI: Get the Facts
CDC | TBI Signs and Symptoms
CDC | What Is a Concussion?
CDC | FAQs about Baseline Testing
Healthline | Head Injury: Types, Causes, and Symptoms

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