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  • Writer's pictureDr Nicole White

Concussion in Kids

Well, it's that time of the year when winter sports are ramping up. With 3 busy children in my life, I know only too well the weekend juggle of three football matches and a netball game! Weekend sport is great for kids and parents alike. Jersey washing and fruit chopping aside, sport provides an opportunity for great comraderie, the experience to be part of a team and to develop resilience in the face of wins and losses. Sometimes it is not so much fun however, when your child sustains an injury. Many a broken bone and sprained ankle occurs on field every weekend. One of the more serious injuries which can often be overlooked is Concussion.

Concussion is a mild form of traumatic brain injury which can have ongoing symptoms in up to 30% of those affected. I in 5 children will experience concussion before they are 10 years old. 51% of concussions in children are related to falls. 25% are related to sports activities and occur most often in 10-19 year old boys, particularly those who are playing contact football. Any bump to the head however, can lead to concussion.

So how do we know when it is concussion? Following a bump to the head, most kids will be upset and tender at the site of the impact but will recover without further symptoms. Early signs of concussion to be on the lookout for include:

  • headache

  • dizziness

  • imbalance

  • lack of awareness of surroundings

  • nausea and vomiting

If your child is suffering from any of these symptoms then they should be withdrawn immediately from play and assessed in more detail. They should not return to the game and should be monitored closely. If their symptoms appear to be worsening then they should be sent to hospital immediately for further assessment and to rule out a more serious injury.

Head check is an app that has been created by the Murdoch Children's Research Institute to help parents and coaches determine the appropriate course of action to take when a child may have a concussion. This app can also help you with a recovery plan for your child with regards to return to school and sport following a concussive injury.

If your child has sustained a mild concussion and is being monitored at home, you should arrange an appointment with your GP as soon as possible. In the meantime keep a close eye on your child. The "HEAD BUMPS" approach can be useful to identify any red flags.

  • H Headache

  • E Eye trouble

  • A Abnormal Behaviour

  • D Dizziness

  • B Balance Disturbance

  • U Unsteady on feet

  • M Memory Impaired

  • P Poor concentration

  • S Something is not quite right

If you are concerned about any of these features please take your child to an emergency department for prompt assessment.

Concussion can affect a child's developing brain quite differently to that of an adult. Research has now shown that concusion can be associated with ongoing symptoms such as mental fogginess, decreased concentration, memory problems, irritability, personality changes and altered sleeping patterns for up to 10 days. It is important that a gradual return to daily activities, then school and then sport be undertaken. Your GP can help guide you through this process safely. The head check app will also provide some guidance around recovery plans.

So whether you are a parent, coach or participant, please be on the lookout for concussive injuries in children and take any symptoms seriously. In the meantime, enjoy!


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