Would You Recognize Your Kid’s Concussion?

Chris Coyne was used to getting pummeled on the football field—he thought that taking a beating was just part of the game. He refused to be sidelined by a few nasty bumps. But after sustaining numerous head injuries, the Yale university student found himself unable to take notes in class or remember where he was going. Like lots of young sports fanatics, Chris wasn’t happy to sit on the bench: he just wanted to get back in the game as soon as possible. More than 50% of sports concussions go unreported, partially because young athletes don’t want to pass up playing time. Chris continued to play with his concussion, and his brain hadn’t recovered from all the times it had slammed against his skull. Ultimately, he had to give up football for good. “I wish I knew then what I know now about concussions and injuries,” he says. “If I did, I would still be playing.”

Experts estimate that there are between 1.6 and 3 million sports-related concussions among children and adults every year. Even if your kid’s not an athlete, you should still make sure you can recognize the symptoms of a concussion. Falls are the main cause of brain injuries in kids under age 10; your tot’s tumble could be more serious than you think. Whenever your kid bangs his head, watch out for these red-flag symptoms: headache, fatigue, balance problems, vomiting, drowsiness, memory and concentration issues, irritability and sadness, and sleep disturbances. If you suspect that your child has a concussion, get her checked out by a doc right away. Though many of these injuries are easily treated with rest, others require surgery to reduce swelling and decrease the risk of long-term damage.

Now, Chris works to raise awareness about concussions, and remind young players how important it is to let themselves rest and recover following an injury.

Check out this video about Chris’s story, which was produced by Choices, a Scholastic magazine for students.

Image: Boy in football helmet via Shutterstock

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  1. by Katherine Snedaker

    On September 25, 2012 at 6:12 pm

    Chris Coyne is an impressive young man and I have had the honor of speaking with Chris at a number of concussion events put on by my organization, http://www.SportsCAPP.com. Kids really listen to every word he says and they leave the presentations educated about concussions.

    I do want to add my comments about what I see is a misleading sentence in this blog post, “Though many of these injuries are easily treated with rest, others require surgery to reduce swelling and decrease the risk of long-term damage.”

    Most concussions are treated with rest – both rest from exercise and from school called “cognitive rest.” About 80% of concussions heal in 3-4 weeks, and 20% of children will continue to have symptoms which is called Post Concussive Syndrome.

    There also is a very rare, but deadly syndrome that is only seen in child under the age of 21, called “Second Impact Syndrome” where a second concussion occurs before the first one is healed. And if possible, surgery is used to try to save the life of the child. As Dr. William Meehan III, MomsTeam concussion expert and Director of the Sports Concussion Clinic at Children’s Hospital Boston writes in his 2011 book, Kids, Sports, and Concussion, “[a]though second impact is rare, it has a devastating effect on those involved. Those who do survive second impact syndrome are neurologically devastated.

    “Others require surgery to reduce swelling and decrease the risk of long-term damage.” This part of the sentence is referring to this deadly rare syndrome and there is no patient I have read about that has lived and not had extreme neurological damage.

    I think you should edit this line or at least post my comment so parents understand the difference. I correct errors in concussion articles in the press daily – rarely is there an article without an error because facts about concussions are hard to understand unless one works in the field.

    Thank you for posting Chris’ video and bringing attention to this issue.

    Katherine Snedaker, MSW
    Concussion Educator

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