If your child participates in high school sports, there is a new state law that requires both of you to read, sign and return to school an information sheet acknowledging the risks of concussions and head injuries. The new law, to be fully implemented by July 1, also states that if your child suffers a concussion or head injury during a practice or game, he or she must be removed and will not be able to return without written clearance from a healthcare professional.
What is a concussion?
Concussions are injuries to the brain that affect the way the brain works. Signs and symptoms can include lightheadedness, dizziness, fogginess, headaches, fuzzy vision, confusion, memory loss, unsteadiness or just not feeling right. A majority of athletes do not lose consciousness.
There’s no specific test to diagnose a concussion. If there is an injury or trauma to the head and there are symptoms like those described above that are directly related to the injury, then a concussion is usually determined.
How is it treated?
If your child shows any of these symptoms, he or she should be promptly examined and not allowed to return to practice or games until medically cleared.
Once a concussion is diagnosed, the athlete is not allowed to participate in practice or games, and other mental and physical activity is often limited. The athlete may only resume sports activity after another evaluation by a healthcare professional. Depending on the severity of the concussion, resumption of activity may need to be gradual.
The Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing (ImPACT) Program is an important tool that helps healthcare professionals manage head injuries and determine when a student athlete can safely return to practice and play.
Riley at IU Health specialists recommend that all athletes ages 11 and older take an ImPACT baseline test during the preseason. If an athlete suffers a concussion, the test is performed again to give the treating physician information on your child’s brain function for comparison and analysis.
If your child suffers a concussion during play and he or she hasn’t taken a baseline test during the preseason, it still is imperative that you seek medical attention for your child’s concussion.
What are some of the long-term implications?
• The younger the athlete, the longer for concussions to resolve.
• The younger the athlete, the higher the risk of long-term problems if the athlete has a head injury on top of a concussion that is not completely healed.
• Return to play on the same day of an injury should never be allowed for children and adolescents—regardless of their level of athletic performance.
Without prompt and proper medical attention, a concussion may affect your child’s grades and mental health.
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