By Kristin Sidorov
After taking a closer look at head injuries in children’s athletics, studies are finding more and more evidence that even mild concussions can have persistent and lingering effects on kids. A serious injury, concussions have often been downplayed as something that just happens, especially in high-impact sports like football. But they shouldn’t be.
According to a new study, up to 20 percent of kids who had suffered a concussion had unresolved symptoms after 1 year, including forgetfulness, difficulty staying focused and paying attention, headaches, and fatigue. Ultimately, the goal is to find if there are any risk factors associated with lingering effects, and what course of action is needed for those whose symptoms persist.
But currently, researchers can’t answer one important question: What are the long-term or permanent effects these kids may face? Stories of professional athletes suffering concussions and falling into early dementia raise troubling concerns. But only time will tell, and hopefully studies will uncover ways to help predict and treat lingering problems and ultimately slow any further progression.
For now, parents are taking these findings to heart, and talks have begun across the country to implement better equipment standards and safer guidelines in children’s athletics with the goal of preventing these kinds of injuries from occurring in the first place.
Downplaying injuries simply isn’t an option. It’s critical that everyone involved, especially the kids, knows the signs of and risks involved with head injuries. Even a mild bump or blow to the head can cause a concussion, and it doesn’t always involve a loss of consciousness. Headaches or head “pressure,” nausea, dizziness, blurry vision, grogginess, trouble focusing, sensitivity to light or noise, and tingling or numbness are all red flags to watch for after a head injury and reasons to seek medical help.
Here is a full list of observed symptoms to watch for:
• Appears dazed or stunned
• Vomiting or complaining of nausea
• Memory problems (difficulty learning new information)
• Amnesia (loss of memories from before and/or after the injury)
• Any loss of consciousness
• Difficulty with coordination or balance
• Behavior or personality changes
• Slowed thinking, reaction, speaking, or reading
• Slurred or nonsensical speech
Seek help from a medical professional immediately if your child or loved one has any of these symptoms.
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