Head’s up: Doctors urge parents to be on alert for concussion in their kids

Kids should get their heads out of the game if they sustain a concussion while playing sport.
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Heads up: With winter sport having now kicked off across the state, parents are being reminded to be on the lookout for any signs of a concussion in their child.

“When in doubt, sit it out,” is the message The Children’s Hospital at Westmead is sending to Penrith’s young athletes this sporting season.

Professor Gary Browne, Emergency Physician and Senior Physician in Sports and Exercise Medicine at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead, said its important to recognise the symptoms of a concussion early on.

“If parents just take one message away in terms of prevention of significant concussion injury, if they recognise it very early on and they remove their child or young person and they don’t return back to play until they’re totally asymptomatic, that really has a huge impact on a concussion outcome,” he told the Weekender.

According to Browne, common sign of a concussion include appearing dazed, having difficulties remembering before or after the hit, trouble moving, showing personality changes and repeating questions they’ve been asked.

He said medical advice should be sought immediately if a child is showing serious signs like seizures, headaches, dizziness or loss of balance, nausea or vomiting, increased tiredness, light and noise sensitivity, difficulty with their vision or sleeping, numbness and problems concentrating.

“Some of these symptoms are not immediate in young children, they can actually have their head strike or their head impact and they don’t seem to much in the way of symptoms and they can evolve over the next few hours, sometimes over the next day or two, so that’s the importance of just recognising that head impact,” Browne added.

“The kids who do tend to have a broader range of symptoms, what we call a higher symptom burden, they often do go on to have a more prolonged injury, and in those cases they’ll often get sleep disturbances and mood changes and other behavioural and emotional problems as well.

“But they tend to fall in the minority of cases, the vast majority of children will often get one or two of these symptoms, the symptoms tend to resolve very quickly over a couple of days to a week.”

Browne said the current recommendation is that children who sustain a concussion while playing sport should sit out for at least 21 days before getting back in the game.

“This is very much an expert consensus based on the fact that the young brain is developing and the young brain takes time to really recover,” he said.

For more information, go to http://www.schn.health.nsw.gov.au/concussion-and-mild-head-injury-factsheet.

Ellie Busby

Ellie Busby is a news reporter for Western Sydney Publishing Group. A graduate of the University of Hertfordshire and Western Sydney University, she is a journalism Major. Ellie has worked with Universal Media, The Cova Project and for a range of other projects.

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