A concussion is a temporary injury to the brain often caused by a fall or a forceful blow. If your child has a concussion, it is important to seek medical help right away. While most people recover from concussions on their own within a day to a week's time, concussions can lead to other major health problems that need to be addressed, so seeking medical assistance is important.
One common way that children get concussions is while playing contact sports. During sports, children often fall down, get knocked down, get hit or run into others - all of which can cause a concussion. This certainly is not the only way, however. Children can also get concussions as the result of falling down on the playground, fighting, or getting into a car or bicycle accident. Anything that causes a forceful blow to the head can cause a concussion.
The symptoms of a concussion can vary widely among children. While a concussion can be accompanied by an unconscious period, it doesn't have to be. Concussions that occur without an unconscious period can be just as serious.
Common physical symptoms of a concussion include: headache, dizziness, lack of coordination, blurred vision and nausea. Common mental symptoms of a concussion include: feeling confused, forgetful or unable to focus. Concussions can also cause children to be more or less sleepy or to feel anxious, sad or irritable. If your child seems "out of it" or "not himself or herself," a concussion may be to blame.
If your child has unequal pupils, weakness on one side of the body or neck pain, or if your child is vomiting repeatedly, very drowsy or unconscious, call 911 immediately.
If your child seems okay, however, the doctor will probably advise you to simply monitor him or her at home. You will want to have your child rest. Your child also may want an ice pack to help with any swelling as well as an over-the-counter pain medicine to help with any pain.
Observe your child closely for 24 hours. If your child's symptoms disappear on their own, this is a good sign.
If they worsen, however, call the doctor right away. The doctor will be able to do the necessary tests and scans to look for more serious brain damage.