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Your Child May Have a Concussion – What’s Next?

  • Category: Emergency, Kids' Tips
  • Posted On:
  • Written By: Dr. Tony Johnson, Family and Sports Medicine
Your Child May Have a Concussion – What’s Next?

Concussions are a form of traumatic brain injury resulting from a blow or jolt to the head or upper body, usually after a car crash, fall or from a sports injury (particularly contact sports like football and soccer). They affect brain function, which means an injured person’s judgment may be off. So, a trusted adult or caregiver has the important job of making sure the most informed decision is made about receiving care.

Your safest bet is to seek medical attention right after the incident. The most common immediate symptoms you’d notice are headache, loss of memory, confusion, blurry vision, nausea/vomiting, dizziness, and a temporary loss of consciousness (which doesn’t always happen!).

If your child is an athlete, medical attention could start on the sidelines. If not, you may opt to see a primary care physician, pediatrician or sports medicine doctor, who will perform a basic neurological exam. But if your child experiences paralysis, loss of muscle control, muscle weakness, or uncontrollable movements, head to an ER right away. Most concussions do not immediately warrant imaging like a CT scan or MRI. Typically, that’s the next step after weeks with no improvement of symptoms.

One common misconception among athletes is that it’s OK to get back in the game after a suspected concussion. They may even try to push through so that they don’t disappoint their team or coach. But what they may not realize is that they’re at a higher risk of another concussion and for a longer duration of symptoms if they continue playing.

If you did not seek care right away, and your child remains alert, moving normally and responding to you normally, any injury is likely mild and usually wouldn’t need further testing. But, if your child starts to develop any of these symptoms within a couple days following the suspected concussion, seek medical attention right away:

  • Headache that persists or gets worse over time
  • Drowsiness or difficulty being awakened
  • Repeated vomiting or nausea
  • Seizures
  • Weakness or numbness in the arms or legs
  • Unsteadiness or clumsiness
  • Blurred vision or pupils of unequal sizes
  • Blood or clear fluid coming from the nose or ears
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Slurred speech
  • Dizziness that persists
  • Confusion, i.e., difficulty recognizing people or places

Most people who suffer a mild concussion are back to normal within a week or two, with the proper physical and mental rest. But in children, it’s not uncommon for symptoms to linger up to three months. After the initial medical assessment, a pediatric physical therapist may be recommended to help with lingering issues.

Victoria Bourgeois

Tony Johnson, II, MD
Baton Rouge General Physicians - Primary Care Group

Phone: (225) 367-4558