Concussion in Today’s Young Athlete

by Angelo Del Re, MD

So many children and teens are actively involved in sports and competitive play. Being an athlete can build social skills, create lessons of teamwork, and keep our children healthy and fit. Yet along with these benefits comes risk. Over the past decade, our understanding of concussion in athletes has developed. We now know the importance of proper recognition and care of a child’s developing brain.

A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury caused by a direct blow to the head or other sudden, forceful movement that jolts the brain. Concussions are commonly associated with contact sports such as hockey, lacrosse, football and soccer, yet can also occur with activities such as dance, gymnastics, surfing or skateboarding.

If you ever suspect your child has experienced a concussion during play, it is important to remove them from the rest of the game immediately.

Signs and symptoms of a concussion are:

-loss of consciousness
-dizziness or balance issues
-confusion or trouble concentrating
-nausea or vomiting
-blurry vision or double vision
-just doesn’t “feel right” or “feels down”

If you feel your child has sustained a concussion, monitor them closely and have them evaluated and managed by your Coast pediatrician. Some children may be referred to a concussion specialist if needed for prolonged or severe symptoms. Restrict all athletic activity until cleared by your doctor. Returning to play too quickly risks delaying recovery, a possible second concussion, and permanent brain injury. Talk to the team coach to create a step-wise plan to return to play gradually and safely.

Also talk to your child about the importance of following instructions of mental rest as well as physical rest to allow the brain time to heal. And of course, remember to always have your child wear a helmet and appropriate safety equipment during play.

For more information on understanding concussion and staying safe, please watch the training video provided by the DCD Heads Up online resource:
Angelo Del RebioOur very own Dr. Angelo Del Re MD, MSc, FAAP is a general pediatrician at Coast Pediatrics Carmel Valley.  He is also on staff at both Rady Children’s Hospital San Diego Dept. of Emergency Medicine and Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla and Encinitas.  Dr. Del Re has special interests in childhood injury prevention, home safety, international medicine and supporting healthy, active lifestyles.

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