How Dangerous is a Concussion?
Concussions are dangerous and need to be recognized early. Although a mild form, a concussion is a mild condition of a traumatic brain injury. Depending upon the severity of an incident, the symptoms of a concussion can be obvious or subtle. It will take an observant and diligent parent to recognize symptoms in their children and in themselves.
The purpose of this blog is to set forth the seriousness of a concussion, the common symptoms and the potential long-term effects of not recognizing or properly treating a concussion.
Parents and Their Youth Athlete
Concussions can happen to anyone at any age when susceptible to, or who experience, strikes to the head. Most of the focus is the youth athlete as children and adolescents are resilient and can tolerate injuries more so than adults. An adolescent would not know to look for symptoms. In theory, an adult is more likely to rest when not feeling well, and more likely to recognize and care for pain and discomfort.
Parents have to be on a higher alert when caring for an active adolescent, especially one who participates in a contact sport. Let’s be honest—adolescents can be moody, irritable and not pleasant on the best of days. A parent needs to look past the typical developmental stages of adolescence and recognize the symptoms of a concussion.
Common Symptoms of a Concussion
Concussions are treatable if recognized early and dealt with properly. The visual signs are clear:
- a blank stare;
- the holding of the head;
- trouble balancing;
- vomiting or nausea; or
- hazy memory recall.
The emotional signs are not as subtle:
- a change in sleep patterns;
- mental fog; or
- mood changes.
A person with a concussion can experience one symptom or any combination of symptoms.
The loss consciousness is a clear sign of a full-on concussion, but this symptom occurs in less than 10% of cases.
The Dangers in Missing the Symptoms
The prognosis is mostly positive when a concussion is recognized early and handled properly. It is the young athletes and the adolescents that are more susceptible to permanent damage because their brains are not fully developed. It has been proven that, when a young brain is exposed to repetitive impact, the risk of developing depression and long-term cognitive impairment doubles.
These permanent effects will inhibit the ability to learn, both in and out of school, and will affect the potential to develop and grow professionally and socially.
When a concussion goes undetected and untreated, the condition of “second impact syndrome” can occur. Although very rare, this syndrome is possible and can be fatal when repeated strikes to the head occur before a prior concussion is fully healed.
What Can be Done
The best proactive measures a parent can take, especially if their adolescent participates in a contact sport or a physical activity, is to schedule a doctor’s appointment specifically to diagnose a concussion when symptoms, or the suspicion of symptoms, surface. The involvement on concussion protocol at the sidelines of any sport or activity will also go a long way in minimizing the risks and the effects of a concussion.
The contents of this blog are meant for anyone at any age. However, it is the susceptibility to the dangers of a concussion among our youth that needs particular attention and awareness.