In advance of this year’s Mother’s day, we wanted to commend all of the moms and parents who have helped make physical activity a habit for their children. If you’re a parent that helps your kids get at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity per day, as suggested The Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines, then you are giving your child long-term benefits that far outreach the physical effects of activity and will make them feel good for years to come. Activity enhances self-confidence and social skills, reduces the risk of chronic disease and health problems, develops fundamental movement skills, and enhances cardiovascular fitness and strength.
With all of the good things that come with activity, it is sometimes hard to see the downside. Ask any mom and they’ll tell you that scratches and boo-boo’s are a part of being active. However some of those injuries are worse than others and parents play an important role in keeping children safe. A concussion is one injury not to mess with.
Katharine Todd Millar, a mother of two, described her first experience of seeing a concussion at a lacrosse game as “shocking and scary”. Indeed, any sort of head injury results in a parent’s gut reaction to wrap a child in bubble wrap before returning him or her to sport. However, as Todd Millar points out, sport isn’t the only way to get a concussion. “Kids are active in many different ways all the time. We need to be aware even if our kids are not in sports.”
Similar to the role of a team doctor in professional sport, parents play an important role in concussion identification and post-concussion management. When a concussion occurs, it is important to recognize the signs and symptoms and to understand how you can help your child manage his or her concussion. But you can’t see a concussion like you can a knee covered in road rash. Signs and symptoms of concussion can show up right after the injury or may not appear or be noticed until days or weeks after an injury. Fortunately parents have an upper hand on a team doctor. “When your child is participating in sport (minor league, community programming etc.), mothers know their children the best… If something is different or has changed, then mothers are aware of that” commented Todd Millar.
Any child who is suspected of a concussion should be removed from sport and seen by a medical professional. Repeat or later concussions can be very serious and in some cases can cause long-term brain damage. A medical professional will let you know when it’s ok for your child to return to activity. Until then, any coaches and teachers should know that your child is recovering from a concussion. This is especially important if your child plays multiple sports because a soccer coach may not know about an injury from hockey practice.
Your child may find returning to school after a concussion challenging. Talk with your child’s teachers, school nurse, or counselor about his or her signs and symptoms. Initially he may require some additional help or support including rest breaks, reduced hours spent reading, writing or on the computer and/or additional time for completing assignments.
Parents are the keystone to a child’s health and welfare and with the right knowledge and diligence, they can help care for their child through the good and the bad scratches, scrapes and injuries.
Photo taken by Bopomo
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SYMPTOMS REPORTED BY CHILD:
- Headache or “pressure” in head
- Nausea or vomiting
- Balance problems or dizziness
- Double or blurry vision
- Sensitivity to light or noise
- Feeling sluggish, hazy, foggy, or groggy
- Concentration or memory problems
- Just not “feeling right” or is “feeling down”
SIGNS OBSERVED BY PARENTS or GUARDIANS:
- Appears dazed or stunned
- Is confused about assignment or position
- Forgets an instruction
- Is unsure of game, score, or opponent
- Moves clumsily
- Answers questions slowly
- Loses consciousness (even briefly)
- Shows mood, behavior, or personality changes
Be alert for symptoms that worsen over time & go to emergency right away if:
- One pupil (the black part in the middle of the eye) larger than the other
- Drowsiness or cannot be awakened
- A headache that gets worse and does not go away
- Weakness, numbness, or decreased coordination
- Repeated vomiting or nausea
- Slurred speech
- Convulsions or seizures
- Difficulty recognizing people or places
- Increasing confusion, restlessness, or agitation
- Unusual behavior
- Loss of consciousness (even a brief loss of consciousness should be taken seriously)