Heads in the Game

Originally published by St. Louis Children's Hospital

Whenever a child hits his head hard enough, he can get a concussion. A concussion is a very serious injury to the brain.

Because kids play outside a lot during the summer, parents may think kids get concussions mostly during warm weather. But kids can get concussions playing winter sports, such as ice hockey and skiing, and doing indoor activities, such as basketball, wrestling, gymnastics and indoor soccer.

“Wrestling is the most common indoor sport for kids to get concussions,” says Mark Halstead, MD, co-director of the Washington University and St. Louis Children Young Athlete Center and Director of the Sports Concussion Clinic. “But basketball is a higher risk for girls.”

Seeing Stars?

If a child has suffered a concussion, she might complain of:

  • headache
  • feeling dizzy or like her head is spinning
  • trouble concentrating or remembering things
  • confusion
  • blurry vision or “seeing spots”
  • being bothered by light or sound
  • feeling like she wants to throw up

“Any child who may have a concussion should be taken out of practice or a game right away,” says Paul Jenkins, PT, MSPT, OCS, coordinator of the Washington University and St. Louis Children’s Young Athlete Center. “He should be watched afterward to make sure his symptoms don’t get worse. If he’s rested and these symptoms are still getting worse, get medical help as soon as you can.”

Time Heals

Many kids will recover from a concussion after a few days or weeks. But rest is very important.

“Kids shouldn’t play sports again until they have no more headaches, aren’t feeling dizzy and can think clearly,” Jenkins says. “Always wait for a doctor or therapist to tell you it’s OK to let your child play sports again.”

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