Concussion Injuries: Symptoms and Prevention

Edited by Admin
Concussion Injuries: Symptoms and Prevention

Sports and Recreation-Related Concussions
Sports and recreation-related concussions are a leading cause of traumatic brain injuries among children and teens in Canada. In fact, youngsters make up approximately 70% of all sports-related concussion injuries seen in emergency departments, and children can take longer to recover from these injuries than adults. In recent years, we’ve all become more aware of the incidence of concussion and about the long-lasting consequences of suffering from multiple concussions. Of course, we can’t bubble-wrap children. We want them to reap the benefits that playing sports can bring, physically and mentally. But sports such as football, hockey, basketball, baseball, and skiing, as well as recreational activities like horseback riding, bicycling, sledding, skateboarding, and playground activities can put children and teens into situations where they’re at risk for concussion.

Education is Key
Prevention is obviously a primary goal; the fewer concussions that occur, the better for everyone. But when a concussion does occur, we need to recognize the signs and obtain the appropriate medical treatment for the victim. One of the most important things we can do is to educate parents, coaches, and young people about concussions. A decade or two ago, athletes who became mildly concussed were urged to keep playing, or were allowed only to rest for a few minutes before being sent back into the game. Further, many athletes who sustained injuries that were identified as a possible concussion reported that their coach was unaware that they had been injured. By teaching coaches how to prevent and recognize concussion, we can reduce the number of traumatic brain injuries that occur, and make sure the ones that do happen are dealt with effectively. By letting children know how to recognize a concussion, and encouraging them to advocate for themselves, we can help to ensure that they receive medical attention when they need it. And by informing parents about the dangers and the symptoms of concussion, they can make informed decisions about their children’s activities.


A concussion happens when a collision or blow causes the brain to move around inside the skull. The brain is a soft organ that’s normally protected by cerebrospinal fluid it floats in and the bones of the skull. But when an impact causes the brain to move inside the skull, it can bang against the bone, which can cause bruising, injured nerves, and tear blood vessels. These injuries can lead to a temporary loss of normal brain function.


Symptoms of concussion may include:

  • headache
  • ·vertigo
  • ·nausea and/or vomiting
  • loss of consciousness
  • sleepiness
  • blurred vision or slurred speech
  • confusion
  • difficulty with balance or walking
  • memory or concentration problems
  • mood problems
  • insomnia


Coaches and parents must learn to be vigilant. Even a bump that looks minor can cause a traumatic brain injury in a young person, and symptoms sometimes take some time to develop. If any of these symptoms are observed in a child or teen who has suffered from an impact or collision during a game or play activity, seek medical help for them immediately.


Preventing Concussions

Canadians love sports with a lot of action; our beloved hockey, for example, is a high-impact sport that is responsible for a large percentage of concussions, and sledding, often thought of as an innocent pastime, can be very dangerous. All types of junior athletes should be sure that they’re wearing the right kind of protective equipment for the activities that they engage in. Of course, protective gear for many activities includes helmets designed to prevent traumatic brain injuries. Ensure that the helmets used are certified by the Canadian Standards Association for the appropriate use, worn correctly, well-maintained, and are the correct size -- never choose a helmet that your child will “grow into.” Helmets should not be used for more than a few years, and should be replaced immediately if they have been involved in a collision or fall. Make sure your child has the right helmet for the activity they’re engaged in, and don’t substitute one type of helmet for another. If your child skis, plays hockey, and rides a bike, she needs three different types of helmets.


Another way of helping to prevent concussions is to create a safe sports culture. Make safety the number one priority for your team or league, and take action to ensure that it is. Hold workshops for parents and kids to learn more about how to engage in the sport or activity safely. Make sure that coaches, officials, and other personnel know all of the rules of the sport, and get regular training in safety measures such as first aid and CPR. Do routine inspections of gear and facilities. Enforce the rules of the game that are meant to prevent injury. Most sports have rules regarding fair play and sportsmanship, and these must be rigorously and consistently enforced, across the board.


Keep our kids playing safely; work to prevent concussions!