Head Injuries in children are always a concern. Often it is minor, but sometimes it can result in a condition known as CONCUSSION.
Concussion can be broadly defined as brain injury, caused by any traumatic force to the head, directly or indirectly, resulting in some form of neurological impairment.
Concussion can be both immediate or delayed, so a healthy level of concern with any head injury is needed. Signs and symptoms can range from mild, such as a headache or just ‘not feeling right’ through to severe, such as drowsiness, confusion, vomiting and irritability. Essentially, concussion can manifest as many symptoms and can be difficult to identify.
If your child suffer a knock to the head, first aid principles should always apply, and if you suspect a concussion, they should be reviewed by a medical practitioner.
Close observation is always required post any head injury, but the most important concept for a child who suffers a concussion, is that the priority is for a successful ‘Return to Learn’ for that child, before any ‘Return to Play’. This means that a child should be performing at their usual standard in the classroom or other academic activates, before contemplating any return to sport.
Once a successful ‘Return to Learn’ has happened, a graduated return to sport, with close observation for any recurrent symptoms should ensue, and further review….
Every child and concussion is unique, but as a general rule of thumb, most children should not return to any contact sports until 14 days after the resolution of all symptoms.
There exists some really good tools to assist in your decision making. The simplest of which is the ‘Pocket Concussion Recognition Tool’ which you can download from the comprehensive ‘Concussion in Sport’ website – https://concussioninsport.gov.au/ . This is a useful tool to have on your smartphone for ready access and use.
As always, your local doctor is a fantastic support with this condition.
This article was written by Dr. Ben Grant and published in the Western Suburbs Weekly, 2017