By Dr. Daya Alexander Grant
We’ve all been there. Your child falls, hitting her head, and your mind immediately switches into overdrive: Does she have a concussion? Should I take her to the doctor? Will she have long-term brain damage?
With the heightened media attention on concussions in recent years, these concerns are natural.
Let’s address the most frequently asked questions:
What is a concussion?
- A type of traumatic brain injury (TBI), caused by rapid acceleration and deceleration of the head, that temporarily alters the brain’s normal functioning.
- Symptoms may include: dizziness, nausea, headache, sensitivity to light or sound, behavioral/emotional changes, difficulty concentrating, sleeping much more or much less than usual, memory loss, confusion, and/or loss of consciousness, even briefly.
When should I take my child to the doctor?
- If you suspect a concussion, take your child to his/her pediatrician or another medical provider trained in concussion management. Early diagnosis is important for proper care and to prevent further injury.
- Go to the Emergency Room if symptoms worsen over time or if your child experiences any of these red flags: loss of consciousness, persistent headache, numbness/weakness, seizures, vomiting, slurred speech, or unusual behavior.
My child has been diagnosed with a concussion. Now what?
- Follow rest and return-to-activity guidelines, as prescribed by your medical provider. The personalized, step-by-step approach is critical to preventing repeat concussions within a short time frame (i.e. before the brain has fully recovered), which can lead to long-term consequences.
- Be your child’s advocate. Speak with his or her school teachers and coaches to make sure accomodations are made, if necessary.
Concussions should be taken seriously, but worrying only causes stress for you and your child. Get educated (check!), have an action plan, and then let go of the fear.
For more info: CDC fact sheet for parents
Daya Alexander Grant, Ph.D., M.S., is a mental strength coach, neuroscientist, and yoga teacher, who specializes in working with athletes recovering from concussions. She has a private practice in LA, where she lives with her husband and their two year old son.