Some sports are riskier than others, but the fact is that young athletes can end up with a concussion no matter what activity they choose.
About 70% of all concussions occur when children and teens engage in sports. And surprisingly, girls have nearly double the chance of sustaining a concussion compared to boys.
As specialists in concussions and traumatic brain injuries, the team at THINK Neurology for Kids has one urgent piece of advice: Always have your young athlete evaluated after a head injury, even if they feel fine. Read on to learn more about concussions.
Concussions can happen without hitting your head
Concussions are associated with a direct impact to the head. While most concussions happen that way, athletes can easily end up with a concussion after taking a forceful hit anywhere on their body.
As the body reacts to the impact, their brain moves inside their skull. The brain quickly accelerates in one direction before moving in the opposite direction, much like a whiplash injury.
As a result, the brain bounces against the skull and your child or teen can develop a concussion.
You can feel fine but still have a concussion
Some people have symptoms such as a headache, memory loss, confusion, and dizziness shortly after they develop a concussion. But many people don’t have symptoms right away. Symptoms may not appear for days. Even if your young athlete feels fine, they can still have a concussion.
Mild and delayed symptoms are especially dangerous because your child may go about their normal activities and return to playing their sport. Here’s why staying active is dangerous.
After teens have one concussion, they’re 3-6 times more likely to have a second one. And if your teen goes back to playing sports before their brain heals, a second concussion can cause serious problems. It only takes a mild second head injury to cause brain swelling and potentially permanent damage.
No matter how minor the head injury — and even if your child doesn’t have symptoms — you should always schedule an evaluation. That’s the only way to know the severity of the problem and the best course of treatment to protect their brain from further injuries and long-term complications.
Don’t count on losing consciousness
One of the most common myths about concussions is that the injured person loses consciousness. But fewer than 10% of people who suffer a concussion lose consciousness. If they’re knocked out, it’s for a brief time.
Losing consciousness is a red flag alerting you to a more severe traumatic brain injury. A moderate brain injury can leave your child unconscious for 20 minutes to six hours, while a severe injury may knock them out even longer.
Concussions are not limited to football
Football gets a lot of attention when it comes to traumatic brain injuries, but it isn’t the only sport that puts young athletes at risk for a concussion.
Concussions frequently occur during basketball, soccer, bicycling, wrestling, martial arts, cheerleading, and ice hockey. In younger children, playground activities are one of the top causes of concussions.
Rest is the only way to heal a concussion
The only way to help the brain heal is to cut back on activities and get plenty of rest. We realize that can be hard for children and teens, especially when they have mild symptoms and they’re anxious to get back in the game, but it’s the best treatment.
Taking time to rest right after a concussion pays off when your young athlete can safely return to sports knowing they’re not at risk for a second concussion or chronic complications.
If you have any questions about your child’s symptoms or you need to schedule a concussion evaluation, call our office in The Woodlands, Katy, or Cypress, Texas, or book an appointment online today.