Concussion Fast Facts: Protecting Your Child from Brain Injury

Board Certified Pediatric Emergency Physician Dr. Ronnie Waldrop, Lennis Klenk, NP and Erin Rovelli, RN, serve patients in the Children’s Emergency Room at Inova Loudoun Hospital – Loudoun County’s only emergency facility solely dedicated to caring for children and adolescents.

shutterstock_1404420All parents want to keep their children safe from head to toe – and one important way to protect their heads is to be on the lookout for signs of concussion.

A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury. It’s caused by a bump, blow or jolt to the head, or by a hit to the body that causes the head to move quickly back and forth.

Recognizing Signs, Symptoms & Myths

Common symptoms of concussion include:

  • Headache
  • Vomiting or nausea
  • Difficulty thinking or remembering
  • Dizziness
  • Vision problems
  • Trouble walking
  • Fatigue
  • Mood changes
  • Changes in sleep patterns

Unfortunately, some myths about concussions still get passed around. Some of these concussion truths might surprise you:

  • Most concussions occur without loss of consciousness.
  • You can suffer a concussion without actually hitting your head.
  • Some concussion symptoms show up right away. But sometimes, they aren’t noticeable until days or weeks after the injury.
  • Children and teenagers are more likely than adults to experience a concussion, and they take longer to recover.
  • Repeat concussions can cause permanent brain damage.

Handling a Suspected Concussion

If you think your child may have a concussion, don’t wait to take action:

  • Remove your child from play right away. Children who continue to play before their brains have healed have a greater chance of having another concussion.
  • Have your child see a health care provider as soon as possible. A health care provider can diagnose the severity of the concussion and give recommendations about when to return to school and other activities.
  • Follow up with a health care provider to track concussion symptoms as your child recovers. Children may need extra support, such as extra time on schoolwork or more rest breaks, as they recover.

Be Prepared

One important way to protect your child is to have baseline testing done before the start of a sports season. This test assesses a child’s balance and vision function, as well as cognitive skills such as memory and learning. If your child suffers a concussion, doctors can do a similar test and compare the results to his or her baseline test to determine the severity of the symptoms.

For more information about baseline testing and concussion treatment, read about the Inova Concussion Program.

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