Helping Your Child Recover From A Concussion
Even with how common concussions happen in children, diagnosing and treating your child with a concussion can still be difficult.
So what are the myths and truths about concussions?
Katrina is a young, competitive figure skating who competes at the national and international levels. During a practice session, she caught an edge and ended up falling and hitting her head on the ice. She did not lose consciousness but did shortly afterwards begin feeling headache, neck pain and dizziness. With physiotherapy, she was able to gradually resume her figure skating as her symptoms improved and has since returned to competition.
Here are some key tips for when your child suffers a concussion.
Symptoms In Kids With Concussions
When a concussion happens, your brain is shaken around and ends up hitting the inside of your skull. You can still get a concussion without actually hitting your head. Sometimes, concussion can happen when your body is thrown about such as in a car accident or whiplash.
There have been studies showing that the the more times a child has a concussion the more likely the potential for other related issues. These include things such as needing longer to recover following a concussion, brain swelling and even more serious consequences.
Some of the signs and symptoms to look for if you think your child has a concussion include:
- Feeling pressure in their head
- Balance problems
- Sensitivity to light and / or sound
- Fatigue or tiredness
- Having trouble concentrating, with memory
Kids with concussions may react much the way adults do. You might also find your child showing other symptoms including being:
- More irritable
- Have a hard time controlling their emotions
3 Ways To Help Your Kids With Concussions
1. Protect And Prevent
Most people believe that using a helmet or mouthguard would help in avoiding concussions. Surprisingly, much of the research to date has shown that helmets may not actually help prevent concussions.
This is because most concussions are due to rotational movements of your brain inside your skull. Helmets are good against translational or impacts in one direction. This is why they are good protection against things such as skull fractures, face injuries and TBI’s or traumatic brain injuries.
However, if you are hit hard enough, even a helmet will not stop your brain from hitting the inside of your skull.
If you can still get a concussion while wearing a helmet, what can you do? Here are some suggestions:
- Work on your neck and core muscle strength. Stronger neck muscles may help dampen the impact and lower your risk of getting a concussion
- When driving, always wear your seatbelt and ensure your children are sitting in the appropriate safety seats for their age and size
- Use safety guards with windows and stairwells to protect kids from falling out or over
- If you are unsure if your child has a concussion or not, have a healthcare professional examine them
- Do not return to play or sport until they have been given the go-ahead by your healthcare professional
2. Remove, Rest
Two things that have shown to have a positive effect on your child’s recovery is to remove them from their sport or activity right away and have them rest. When both are done, kids are found to be able to recover faster and have fewer symptoms. Adequate rest is of utmost importance in your child’s recovery.
Mental rest allows your brain to recover and repair. Physical rest allows your body to rest and repair. This does not mean stay in bed for weeks on end. Instead, it may be as simple as taking a break from school or homework. Another example is to listen to relaxing music.
Physical rest means things such as:
- No sports or exercise, jogging
- Avoiding household chores that are physically demanding (eg. mowing the lawn)
- No moving of heavy boxes or groceries
- Getting more sleep
3. Physiotherapy And Chiropractic Care
Your physiotherapist and chiropractor can help guide you and your child through their recovery from a concussion. There are many different ways your physiotherapist or chiropractor can help:
- Treat neck injuries: Along with injuring their brain, your child can often injure the muscles and joints in their neck and upper back at the same time. There are many different treatments available to help the strains and sprains that came with your child’s concussion
- Help for balance and dizziness problems: Specific exercise and movements can be used to help your kid resolve these issues
- Eye or vision issues: Your child can be taught the proper drills and exercises to help improve some of the vision problems they may have. More serious visual issues may need a referral to a specialist
- Return to activity: Your therapist can help you navigate how best to have your child return to sport or activity and when it is safe to do so. They will also keep an eye on your child’s response during their gradual return to play and make adjustments when needed
- Preventing injury: Once your child has returned to their sport or activity, your physio or chiropractor can help ensure that your child has restored normal coordination of their body and especially their legs. Some studies have shown that those who have had a concussion are more likely to injure their legs possibly due to a communication and coordination disconnect between their brain and their legs
While rest is a common recommendation, too much rest is to be avoided as well. For example, up to 1-2 days of rest is sometimes acceptable. Kids should be encouraged to return to their activities as soon as your healthcare professionals feels they are ready.
Getting The Right Treatment For Your Kids After A Concussion
Seeing your child injured and suffering is both difficult and worrying. However, by following the proper steps and getting help, most kids can recover without any issues. If you do find your child is taking longer to recovery, this information will hopefully help you in your decision making process.
Q: How do I know if my child has a concussion?
A: If your child has any symptoms of headache, nausea, dizziness, feeling pressure in their head, balance issues or vomiting, they may have a concussion
Q: What is the treatment for my child when they have a concussion?
A: Two important things to do if you think your child has a concussion is remove from activity and rest. It is important for them to stop whatever activity they are doing and not return to their sport or activity until ready. Resting both their brain and body will also help their recovery. Also, have them see your physiotherapist or chiropractor for a proper assessment
Q: When do concussion symptoms show up in my child?
A: Your child may not always report symptoms of a concussion right away. Sometimes, symptoms may not show up until 1-2 days after the incident