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Does your child play sports? Read this

Does your child play sports? Read this

Organized sports can be great for kids – for socialization with their peers and the development of self-esteem. Getting your child interested in a sport gets them exercising, off the couch and off the screen. The benefits are many, particularly as this nation faces a growing childhood obesity problem.

Today, much attention has been paid to the risks of athletic participation. Parents are hearing more and more about concussions. Many wonder if they should keep their kids out of sports to avoid the injury. A concussion is a traumatic brain injury caused by a blow to the head, neck or body that forces the head and brain to move rapidly, similar to whiplash. It is estimated that between 1.1 and 1.9 million sports-and recreation-related concussions occur annually in U.S. children under 18 years of age. While more common than we’d like to see, most concussions won’t have long-lasting effects.

No matter the sport – football, baseball, soccer, hockey, gymnastics or cheerleading, there is a concussion risk for young athletes. To reduce the chances your child will suffer one, make sure they are wearing proper-fitting equipment, learning correct techniques and adhering to the rules. Parents and athletes should also know how to identify a concussion and when to seek treatment. In many states, like Illinois, there are also protocols for coaches when a concussion is suspected.

Many concussions are mild. If your child suffers a blow to the head or body, he or she may be asked to take a break and leave the game. Symptoms may include headache, dizziness, difficulty concentrating or a sensitivity to bright lights or loud noises. If symptoms are mild, sleep and rest from activities will give the brain time to heal.

But parents should be aware of symptoms that are more serious and require a trip to an emergency department for evaluation:

  • A headache that worsens
  • Ongoing confusion or a change in mental status
  • Numbness or tingling in one part of the body
  • Vomiting, more than once
  • The blow causes a seizure, blackout or loss of consciousness
  • Excessive sleepiness and fatigue

The symptoms of a concussion can come on immediately or hours after an injury; keep an eye on your child. Any worsening symptoms should always be a red flag to seek medical advice from your child’s primary care physician or sports medicine specialist.

And while coaches will be watching from the sidelines and parents from the stands, teach your child to speak up if a hard hit leaves them feeling dazed or confused. Athletes should know that it is not only okay but necessary to let someone know they are hurt.

Dr. David Lessman is a pediatric sports medicine physician with Advocate Children’s Hospital in Park Ridge, Ill. As a compassionate pediatrician and sports medicine physician, Dr. Lessman strives to work with patients and their families to ensure understanding of their diagnosis, as well as the quickest and safest way to return the athlete to participation in their sport or activity.

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About the Author

Dr. David Lessman
Dr. David Lessman

Dr. David Lessman is a pediatric sports medicine physician with Advocate Children’s Hospital in Park Ridge, Ill. As a compassionate pediatrician and sports medicine physician, Dr. Lessman strives to work with patients and their families to ensure understanding of their diagnosis, as well as the quickest and safest way to return the athlete to participation in their sport or activity.