Spring is here and warm weather has finally arrived, making it easier to be physically active outdoors. Parks, playgrounds, bicycles and spring sports can help children and youth enjoy being outside all season long. Know how to help children reduce their risk of serious head injuries and be aware of how to manage concussions.
What is a concussion?
According to Parachute, a national organization dedicated to preventing injuries and saving lives, a concussion is defined as a brain injury that can’t be seen on routine X-rays, CT scans or MRIs. It affects the way a person may think and remember things, and can cause a variety of symptoms. Any blow to the head, face or neck, or a blow to the body that jars your head, could cause a concussion.
What are the most common symptoms of a concussion?
• Difficulty with concentration, learning or with memory
• Headache/sensitivity to light
• Lack of energy
• Loss of balance
• Change in sleep patterns
• Mood changes
How do you reduce the risk of getting a concussion?
Use safety equipment that fits properly. This includes:
• car and booster seats
• protective sports gear, such as a properly fitted helmet.
While helmets can’t prevent a concussion, they may reduce its severity, and can prevent other serious injuries, like skull fractures. Ensure proper training and supervision for practices and games to reduce the risk of concussion in contact sports.
What’s new in post-concussion care?
The Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) has compiled new guidelines on Post-Concussion Care. This resource offers information on what to do after a concussion and when it is safe to return to activities and school.
CHEO’s new recommendations include physical and mental rest for the first 1-2 days (at most) after concussion. Taking part in regular activities, light physical activities and light rest periods should be encouraged for the first 1-2 days after concussion while activities that have a head injury risk, screened devices and prolonged rest 1-2 days should be avoided. Returning to activities and school can start 1-2 days after concussion by gradually starting to increase the heart rate even if symptoms are present. CHEO recommends following the return to activity and school protocol steps (outlined in the Post-Concussion Care document) to safely increase the level of non-contact activities as tolerated, with the goal of avoiding prolonged rest.