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A soccer player heads the ball too hard. A cyclist collides with a light pole. A climber takes a tumble off the jungle gym. Any of these scenarios can result in a concussion. When one involves your child, time seems to move in slow motion.
Recovery from a concussion also moves slowly. And repeated head injuries can lead to serious long-term consequences.
Road to Recovery
Immediately after the injury, your child may seem dazed, confused, or clumsy, or they may not remember how they got hurt. Other symptoms include headache, nausea and vomiting, dizziness, and changes in mood. Sometimes symptoms may take days or even weeks to appear.
Most children and teens with a concussion will feel better within a few weeks. But others may have symptoms for three months or longer. Each child’s concussion will be different, and their recovery may progress at different speeds depending on their symptoms.
When concussion symptoms linger for months, it may mean post-concussive syndrome. This condition is more common in children who have had repeated head injuries. Children with post-concussive syndrome should not return to sports until their symptoms have subsided.
Repeat Concussions Increase Risk
Doctors have long known a second blow to the head too soon after the first can be fatal. They call this condition “second impact syndrome.” But multiple head injuries can also add up to more serious damage over time.
If your child has experienced a concussion, their risk of having another is increased. Repeated concussions can lead to difficulty with memory and concentration, headaches, and even permanent brain damage. In addition, recovery time is usually longer for children who have had multiple concussions.
Smart Treatment Strategies
If your child has a concussion, closely monitor the recovery process. Report any worsening symptoms—including headaches, vomiting, or irritability—to a doctor and seek medical care right away.
Kids can return to school when symptoms begin to subside, as long as schoolwork doesn’t worsen symptoms. That’s often within a few days. But returning to play can take longer. For severe head injuries, your young athlete may need to sit out a month or longer.
A doctor experienced in treating concussions can tell you when it’s safe for your child to get back in the game. If recovery takes more than three months or if your child has had multiple concussions, the doctor may suggest changing sports.
A Heads Up on Concussion Safety
Statistics show rates of concussion climbing, from young children to high-school athletes. Help keep your little one safe by mandating helmet use during riding activities like skateboarding or contact sports, including football.
Make sure coaches and teachers know if your child has had a concussion before. And above all, tell your child to speak up if any head injury—no matter how minor—occurs. Prompt evaluation and treatment can prevent lasting harms.
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