Kids' sports injuries: Concussion consequence quiz

High School sports are back in full swing. But it's not all fun and games. This year 3.5 million kids playing football and other sports will be treated for a sports injury.

Many will suffer their first or a repeat concussion. There are things that parents need to know to keep their kids safe after brain injuries.

They happen all the time and at all levels. But it hit Mason Smith by complete surprise.

"I remember playing but I woke up in the hospital," explains Mason Smith who suffered from a concussion.

The 14-year-old tri-athlete got his first concussion during a pick up game of basketball.

"He kept asking the same questions over and over again and it really alarmed me as a parent because he never had a concussion, and I would have never have known that that was one of the things that happens," explains Mason’s Mother Jennifer Smith.

A recent survey shows many parents don't recognize the red flags. Only eight percent know the risks of repeated brain injuries.

"That actually can be a catastrophic problem if someone actually reinjures their brain before it's fully healed," says Dr. Mark Halstead, MD, the Director of Sports Concussion Clinic at Washington University School of Medicine, St Louis.

So what are the consequences of getting back in the game too soon?

Worsened symptoms, longer recovery, or death, young athletes are at higher risk of second impact syndrome.

"While their still recovering from their first can develop massive swelling in their brain and they can die,” explains Dr. Halstead.

Next can your diet help speed up recovery?

Studies show Omega 3's can help decrease nerve cell damage and creatine found in meat may also help.

Can mouth guards and high-tech helmets prevent a concussion?

While they provide protection some believe they're more of Hail Mary. Before hitting the field, your football players should do a helmet check, for loose attachments, broken welds and cracks in the temporal area.

While knowing what to look for is key, Doctor Mark Halstead says when in doubt, sit them out.

"It's better to miss one game than miss the season,” says Dr. Halstead.

Help your kids play it safe and smart.

How often should you wake a kid up who's just had a concussion?

While the traditional rule has been to wake up a concussed athlete every three to four hours during the night, Doctor Halstead says the best thing for the brain after a concussion is rest.

Mason slept 44 out of the 48 hours following his concussion.

KIDS' SPORTS INJURIES: CONCUSSION CONSEQUENCE QUIZ
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CONCUSSION SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS: It is important for parents and coaches to be able to recognize when a student or child has had a concussion so that they receive the appropriate medical attention and are not put at risk for another concussion. The most common signs of a concussion are as follows and can be used to estimate the severity of the concussion.
1. Loss of consciousness (it is possible to have a concussion without having lost consciousness).
2. Post traumatic memory loss (how long this continues after the injury is also important).
3. Headache, dizziness, confusion, and a lack of concentration. (Source: www.aans.org)

SPORTS STATISTICS: Although football is responsible for its fair share of concussions, many people overlook the danger of receiving a concussion in other contact (and non-contact) sports. A McGill University study found that more than 60% of college level soccer players reported symptoms of a concussion in only a single season. Severe head trauma also accounts for 15% of all skiing and snowboarding injuries and some people continue to refuse to wear a helmet. Cheerleading, boxing, rugby, horse riding, and cycling are other sports where the participants are at risk of a head injury. Football continues to be in the top two for head injuries with 46,948 players having to go to the emergency room in 2009. The number one sport with the most head injuries: cycling. With a staggering 85,389 people having to go to the emergency room for a head injury, it beats football by a significant margin. (Source: www.aans.org)

HOW TO HELP: If someone has a concussion, these suggestions will help with a quick recovery:
* Avoid activities such as contact or recreational sports.
* Avoid sustained computer and video game use at the early stages of the recovery process.
* Return to your normal activities gradually rather than all at once.
(Source: www.cdc.gov)

For More Information, Contact:

Judy Martin
Director of Media Relations
Washington University School of Medicine
(314) 286-0105
martinju@wustl.edu


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