Tuesday, August 1, 2017

The 5 Concussion Myths Every Parent Should Know

This day and age, it’s nearly impossible to think about sports and not think about concussions, too. Between frequent news coverage, online information, even movies, concussions are a popular topic of interest.

However, despite there being more and more attention and information about concussions, statistics continue to rise. In fact, it’s estimated that every year there are between 1.6 and 3.8 million concussions—many of which are from sports injuries.

Because concussions have become a fact of life for many athletes, it’s more important than ever to prioritize concussion safety and care amongst athletes of all ages.

Myth #1: Proper care doesn’t begin until after a concussion happens.

Some of the most important steps of concussion treatment are taken before a concussion ever happens. To ensure better injury management, baseline concussion testing provides experts with a place to start from in the event of a concussion. “Historically, baseline testing has been used for elite athletes, but now there’s a version for athletes of all ages and skill level,” says Adam Shunk, PhD, a neuropsychologist with Gwinnett Medical Center’s Concussion Institute

Baseline concussion screening helps the Concussion Institute team to determine the extent of the injury, allowing them to closely monitor recovery and make safe return-to-play decisions, “And if it’s utilized by professional athletes, wouldn’t you want your child to use it, too?” adds David Schwartz, PhD, a neuropsychologist with the Concussion Institute.

Myth #2: If my child has a concussion, he/she will have typical symptoms.

When it comes to concussions, each one is unique. As Dr. Schwartz says, “When you’ve met one person with a concussion, you’ve met one person with a concussion—they’re all different.” This means that for some, symptomsmay be immediate and severe, while for others they may be delayed and mild, or even nonexistent, “Every persons susceptibility and recovery are entirely unique,” adds Dr. Shunk.

Some of those most common symptoms you may notice, include: headache, nausea vision problems, heightened sensitivity to lights or noises, feeling sluggish, hazy, foggy or groggy, attention or concentration problems, memory loss, confusion, sleep changes, feeling off balance, emotionality or irritability and just not feeling right.

Myth #3: Only athletes get concussions.

A concussion is a mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) caused by either a direct or indirect blow to the head that is hard enough to disrupt the brain’s metabolic functioning. It is this metabolic disruption that causes the physical, cognitive, emotional and sleep-related symptoms of a concussion. 

There’s a common misconception that a majority of concussions occur in athletes, but this isn’t the case. In fact, “a majority of concussions happen in lay people who fall or bump into things,” says Dr. Schwartz. Some of the most common causes include: falls, motor vehicle accidents, playground injuries and bicycle accidents.

Myth #4: You don’t need to get care for a concussion; it will heal on its own.

Because concussions are complex injuries, you should not try to diagnose or evaluate the severity of a concussion on your own, nor should you try to treat it without the guidance of a trained medical professional. “Concussions aren’t just a ding, they can seriously impact day-to-day life and academic achievement,” says Dr. Schwartz.

There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to treating concussions, so it’s important to utilize the care and guidance of an expert, like those of the Concussion Institute. With a specially-trained team; your child will receive a personalized treatment plan that ensures a quick and safe recovery. “In fact, early intervention and education have been shown to reduce recovery times and resulting complications,” emphasizes Dr. Shunk.

Myth #5: I only need give my child a break from sports while he/she is recovering from a concussion.

Depending on the severity of the concussion, your child may not only need a return-to-play protocol, but also a return-to-learn protocol, too. Oftentimes the mental activity and concentration required at school may worsen symptoms. “This is why it’s important to coordinate with the teachers, administrators, counselors and school nurses at your child’s school, so they know about the injury and can help to make appropriate academic accommodations,” notes Maria Chininis, EdS, an education coordinator with the Concussion Institute. 

Our experts will not only coordinate with the staff at your child’s school, “We will also help to implement a return-to-learn protocol that will make your child’s recovery the most efficient and successful it can be,” says Dr. Schwartz.