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What Action to Take if Your Child Has a Concussion

There’s no way to predict when your child might take a blow that gives them a concussion. Playing in sports increases their risk, yet they can suffer a concussion just as easily from a fall.

The trickiest part is recognizing when your child has suffered a concussion. Their symptoms may be mild and, if they’re older, they may insist they feel fine. The most important thing to remember about a concussion is that your child should always rest and be evaluated at one of our THINK Neurology for Kids offices in Cypress, Katy, and The Woodlands, Texas, even when they seem healthy.

Three tricky facts about concussions

Before talking about the actions to take if your child has a concussion, here are three facts about concussions that usually surprise parents.

Your child may not have symptoms

It’s common for a concussion to cause delayed symptoms or such subtle symptoms that they’re not obvious. So it’s important to never assume your child is fine just because they say they feel great.

If symptoms appear, the most common ones — confusion, headache, memory loss, and dizziness — may not be noticeable in young children. Infants and toddlers are more likely to seem listless, irritable, and disinterested in playing or eating. You may notice unsteady walking, but that may be normal, depending on your child’s age.

Your child probably won’t lose consciousness

Chances are your child will stay awake. Most children and teens who experience a concussion don’t lose consciousness. If they do, they’ll wake up within a few minutes.

Your child doesn’t have to suffer a blow to their head

Your child can have a concussion without a direct blow to their head. Any action that snaps their head forward and back can cause a concussion. Your child might suffer a blow to their body, a fall, or a whiplash-type injury. Additionally, the impact doesn’t have to be hard.

Actions to take if your child has a concussion

Any time your child sustains a blow to their head or body, whether or not they have symptoms, these are the steps you should take:

Step 1: Immediately take them out of the game

Whether your child is playing in a competitive sport or simply playing on their own, it’s essential to pull them from their activity and make sure they rest. 

Staying active after a concussion can aggravate their symptoms. Taking a second blow to the head before fully recovering from the first concussion can lead to severe brain damage.

Rest is the primary treatment for a concussion. Your child will need to take a break from physical activities until we give the go-ahead to return to play. And when they’re ready, we’ll create a plan for a gradual return to their normal activities.

Step 2: Look for red flags that your child needs immediate care

Call us for an appointment if your child has any of these symptoms:

Take your child to the emergency department if you notice:

Remember that these symptoms may appear right after the concussion or be delayed.

Step 3: Bring them in for an evaluation

Every child and teen who suffers a concussion needs a full evaluation. Even if their symptoms are mild or nonexistent, call us right away and we’ll talk with you about their symptoms, determine how quickly they should come in, and give you advice about their care while you wait for your appointment.

Step 4: Be on alert for 24-48 hours

Closely monitor your child during the first 24-48 hours following their head injury. Watch for signs of worsening symptoms.

Step 5: Give them time off from school and electronics

Your child also needs to give their brain a rest from cognitive activity. Their brain needs time to heal, which means reducing the things that require mental effort. We may recommend avoiding computers, smartphones, and video games, and staying out of school or reducing their workload.

Step 6: Let them sleep

As long as you’ve talked with us or an emergency department doctor, it’s ok to let your child sleep. Sleeping longer than usual is expected and normal while their brain heals from a concussion.

Call THINK Neurology for Kids or book an appointment online when your child suffers an injury that could cause a concussion. We’ll take the time to talk with you and determine the next step to protect your child’s health.

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