JY: During holiday break from school, many kids are putting on their hockey skates and skis. Winter sports are a great way to stay healthy, but falling on ice and snow brings risks of concussion. Dr. Arnold is here to discuss concussions and what experts recommend parents do to help. What exactly happens during a concussion?
AA: A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury. Your brain is surrounded by fluid to help cushion it in your skull, but when you hit your head really hard, the impact can jolt or bounce your brain and injure brain cells.
JY: What steps are recommended to try to prevent concussions?
AA: Safety equipment is so important. While no equipment is 100 percent safe, make sure your child’s equipment is approved and properly fitted. Many kids like to push their limits, but parents need to make sure rules of safe play, like no hits to the head, are enforced. Also, encourage your children to tell you if they are injured in any way. Sometimes kids feel pressure to play through pain, but make sure they feel comfortable telling you how they are feeling.
JY: What should parents do if they think their child may have suffered a concussion?
AA: The CDC recommends that the child should be removed from the activity immediately and evaluated by a health care professional with experience in concussions. The child should not return to play until given professional medical clearance to resume play. Another concussion soon after the first may increase the risk for complications or slow the child’s recovery.
JY: How long does it take to recover from concussions?
AA: Many people do recover quickly, but some people can feel effects for weeks, months, or even longer. Not only can individuals have problems with memory and disorientation, but sleep patterns, emotions, and the ability to concentrate can also be affected.
JY: What do you think are some of the misconceptions people have about concussions?
AA: Some people still think that you have to lose consciousness for a concussion to be significant. That is not true. Most concussions do not have loss of consciousness, but they still represent injury to the brain. Another important point is about concussion recovery. Sometimes family members or friends may not realize that even though someone looks fine in the days and weeks following a concussion, the individual may still need time to recover. Even if they look okay, the person may not be totally back to normal. They may have headaches, be fatigued, irritable, or have difficulty concentrating.