South Florida Hospital News
Sunday April 11, 2021
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April 2021 - Volume 17 - Issue 10
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Every Concussion Is Unique

Doctors will tell you, “If you’ve seen one concussion, you’ve seen one concussion.”

No two brains are alike. It’s what makes you unique and when your brain is injured, treatments must be tailored to your needs. Even the causes and symptoms of a concussion may differ.
 
Most of us know a blow to the head may cause a concussion. Concussions are also caused by a jolt to the head, face or neck. Concussions are highlighted when a sports figure gets injured.
 
I’m a proponent of sports. We know, scientifically speaking, participation in sports benefits your overall wellbeing. In young athletes, joining a team builds self-esteem and leadership skills; it enhances decision-making and athletes are less likely to develop depression or anxiety.
 
Should you allow your child to engage in sports or should you hold back because you’re worried about concussions? Before you decide, you should have all the facts.
 
Concussions are the most common type of mild traumatic brain injuries. Not all concussions have serious consequences and not all concussions stem from sports injuries. Furthermore, concussions occur in all age groups and in numerous settings. It’s possible for a fall at home or a car accident to result in a concussion.
 
The Symptoms
In some cases, symptoms are immediate. Sometimes, however, they can take a week or more to show up. Telltale signs include:
1. Headaches
2. Imbalance
3. Sleep disturbance
4. Cognitive deficits
 
Headaches are the most common symptoms. Your headache can be consistent, going from some pain to a lot.
 
Imbalance is when you have trouble walking. It occurs the first day or two of the concussion.
 
Sleep disturbance works a few different ways: you get too little or too much sleep or you have difficulty falling asleep.
 
Cognitive deficits can cause trouble remembering or concentrating.
 
While all of these symptoms are common, it’s possible that you won’t know if your child had a concussion. Babies and young children won’t be able to express their feelings. Look for signs of irritability. If they persist, talk to your doctor.
 
It’s important to understand, a single concussion won’t cause brain damage.
 
Treating a Concussion
Get rest and sleep for the first 24 to 48 hours after being diagnosed with a concussion.
 
Curtail sports right after a concussion. After a period of rest, you can resume slowly.
 
We customize treatments. When we see a patient, we ask a series of questions, get the patient’s history and have that patient complete a physical exam. Activities are restricted to allow the brain to recover.
 
If the symptoms persist, medication can be prescribed.
 
The good news is that children have an excellent chance of recovery. Catching it quickly and treating it appropriately leads to a full recovery as if nothing ever happened.
 
Worries about concussions are justified when they happen repeatedly.
 
Preventing a Concussion
While football has the highest incidence of concussions, it’s not uncommon for students taking mixed martial arts, soccer and other sports to get injured. Here are ways to lessen the chance of getting a concussion:
1. Wear protective headgear.
2. Talk to your child about safety rules.
3. Wear seatbelts.
4. After a head injury, follow your doctor’s treatment plan.
5. If you or your child has a head injury, seek immediate medical attention and rest after your diagnosis.
 
Participating in sports is a personal decision that you, your child and family have to make. We know that athletes should not participate in sports while they are symptomatic. We also know after a single injury is healed, it’s okay to return to a game you love.

Dr. Manny Gonzalez-Brito is Pediatric Intensivist of the KIDZ Medical Concussion Program and Medical Director of the Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation Program at Palm Beach Children’s Hospital at St. Mary’s Medical Center.

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