Information & FAQ for Parents
Parents, you know your children better than anyone. You know what is baseline (or normal) for your children and you know and recognize any subtle differences in their behavior or personalities.
As a parent, you already play an active role in your children’s development, both in the classroom and on the athletic field. From tackling homework questions, to volunteering as a coach, to providing nutritious meals to fuel your children’s activity-filled days, you are a key member of your child’s development team. This includes your role in getting educated and recognizing concussions.
What should I do if I suspect my child has sustained a concussion?
Remove your child from play. Do not let him/her return if they are showing any signs or symptoms of concussion. A good guideline to go by is “when in doubt, sit them out.” Have your child evaluated by a healthcare professional.
Should I take my child to the Emergency Room?
The vast majority of concussions do NOT need to be evaluated in the emergency room. This can lead to unnecessary costs and testing. At that time, an emergency room physician cannot tell when your child will be able to return to play safely. If your child is seen in the ER, an additional evaluation by a medical provider trained in concussion management will help better determine when it is safe for your child to return to sports.
However, an emergency referral is indicated in the following cases if your child…
…has sustained a high risk mechanism fall, such as falling from a height directly on to his/her head or neck
…has sustained a suspected cervical spine injury
… experiences loss of consciouness, or his/her level of consciousness deteriorates over time (can’t walk, can’t speak)
… vomits repeatedly
… is unable to recognize people or places
… is profoundly confused
… complains of any numbness or tingling in his/her arms or legs
… complains of symptoms that worsen dramatically in a short period of time (typically over a matter of minutes)
These are all signs of a traumatic brain injury that is likely worse than a concussion, and should be addressed emergently.
It didn’t appear that my child got hit that hard. Can he/she really have sustained a concussion?
Yes. While research is being done of the amount of force needed to sustain a concussion, many other factors apply: whether or not an athlete was braced for the hit, rotation of his/her head, momentum… A fairly benign looking hit may result in a concussion, while a hit that appears very forceful or even violent may not result in any symptoms at all. Each hit & mechanism of injury is different and each injury is different.
My child was diagnosed with a concussion. Should I wake him up every hour to make sure he is okay?
It is fine to let your child sleep your child sleep through the night without waking him/her every couple of hours. In fact, this is an excellent opportunity for the brain to truly “rest.”
Check on your child by feeling for a pulse and listening/feeling for breathing.
Can I give my child any medication to help with the discomfort of his headache?
After assessment for a more serious head injury has been performed and a concussion is diagnosed or suspected, it is safe to treat a headache with ibuprofen (Motrin or Advil), acetaminophen (Tylenol), or naproxen (Aleve). Any narcotics or other drugs which impact cognition and mentation should not be used.
The doctor has cleared my child to return to sports, but he doesn’t seem to be acting like himself yet. Should I go ahead and let him play?
If you suspect that your child’s injury has not fully resolved, do not hesitate to keep him/her out of play. Communicate your concerns with your child’s coach, athletic trainer, or physician.
A phrase to remember here is “when in doubt, sit them out.” This can apply immediately after witnessing a suspicious mechanism of injury that may lead to concussion, or when instinct tells you that your child is not ready to return to play.
I know my child needs to rest to get better from his concussion, but is there anything else that can be done to help him recover faster?
Much research needs to be done to show whether some novel interventions such as DHA supplementation (check out Brain Armor and BrainStrong), hyperbaric oxygen treatment therapy, or other unique modalities can help these injuries recover sooner. Contact your healthcare provider or the Carolina Sports Concussion Clinic for further information.
For more information, visit the CDC’s website for Youth Concussions: http://www.cdc.gov/concussion/HeadsUp/youth.html.
To schedule an appointment or speak with a certified athletic trainer about concussions, please call the Carolina Sports Concussion Clinic Hotline at 919-238-2017.