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Tips for Preventing and Dealing with Concussions

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

 

The weather is changing for the better, and you and your children may be headed outside to participate in some sports. But, you must always be wary of head injuries and possible concussions. GoLocalWorcester reached out to Dr. Marc Restuccia of UMass Memorial Medical Center for some tips on dealing with head injuries. 

What are some signs you have had a concussion?

Concussion refers to a head injury. It can range from a mild bump on the head to a more severe injury from a fall or a car accident. It is an incredibly common injury in the ED. Years ago we felt that to be called a "concussion", a person had to have a period of loss of consciousness. We now feel that any head injury can be called one. After a head injury, people often complain of headaches, confusion, dizziness, nausea (and vomiting) and just not "feeling right". People often suffer from what we call the "post concussive" syndrome. Over the days to a week following a head injury, they may complain of all of the above, plus have personality changes, mood swings, difficulty sleeping or even extreme sleepiness. Usually the more severe the injury, the longer these symptoms. 


What should you do if you have a concussion?

I strongly recommend calling your primary physician or coming to an Emergency Department, especially if you have suffered a loss of consciousness. 


How frequently do concussions go untreated?

Hard to know as we don't see them! 


How can you prevent concussions on the field for your child?

As to sports, use the protective equipment! Baseball, hockey and football all mandate use of protective helmets, use them. Situational awareness is also key. I remember years ago a woman suffered a concussion on a Little League Field because two young boys weren't paying attention to where they were playing catch. Also, I've seen children injured by players fooling around and swinging bats behind LL dugouts. This could easily be a very long topic of conversation! 


Any other advice or tips regarding concussions?

Don't ignore concussions in children!!!! The growing brain is uniquely susceptible to long term injury (and death) from repeated concussions/head injuries. Every year a few athletes, often high school or college age, die after suffering repeated head injuries. This is preventable and tragic. Luckily, most athletic associations and organizations have recognized this and have taken steps to ensure the athlete's safety.  

 

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