Concussions in Kids On the Rise: New AAP Guidelines Issued

Concussions in Kids On the Rise: New AAP Guidelines Issued

Concussions (and traumatic brain injuries, or TBIs) resulting while children are at play are extremely serious events — something that we’ve posted about periodically because efforts to prevent these life-altering events don’t seem to get enough attention.   Maybe things are changing.

New Guidelines for Concussions in Kids Issued Today

The American Association of Pediatrics has issued new Guidelines for head injuries in kids, focusing upon sports-related concussions.  The complete study, “Emergency Department Visits for Concussion in Young Child Athletes,” appears in Pediatrics magazine (available online today).

The new Guidelines are as follows (emphasis added):

  • Children or adolescents who sustain a concussion should always be evaluated by a physician and receive medical clearance before returning to play.
  • After a concussion, all athletes should be restricted from physical activity until they are asymptomatic at rest and with exertion.
  • Physical and cognitive exertion, such as homework, playing video games, using a computer or watching TV may worsen symptoms.
  • Symptoms of a concussion usually resolve in 7 to 10 days, but some athletes may take weeks or months to fully recover.
  • Neuropsychological testing can provide objective data to athletes and their families, but testing is just one step in the complete management of a sport-related concussion.
  • There is no evidence proving the safety or efficacy of any medication in the treatment of a concussion.
  • Retirement from contact sports should be considered for an athlete who has sustained multiple concussions, or who has suffered post-concussive symptoms for more than three months.

How can you tell if your child has suffered a concussion?

According to the Mayo Clinic, children that are old enough to communicate with you should be monitored for the following symptoms of concussion:

  • Confusion
  • Amnesia
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Slurred speech
  • Fatigue
  • Memory or concentration problems
  • Sensitivity to light and noise
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Irritability
  • Depression

Non-verbal clues that young children (infants, pre-K) may be suffering from a concussion include:

  • Listlessness
  • Tiring easily
  • Irritability
  • Crankiness
  • Change in eating patterns
  • Change in sleeping patterns
  • Lack of interest in favorite toys
  • Loss of balance, unsteady walking

Better to Be Safe Than Sorry — Get Your Child Seen by the Doctor Pronto

If you suspect that your child may be suffering from a concussion, it’s better to be safe than sorry.  Get your son or daughter to a doctor and have them checked out — and until it’s ruled out, it’s better to assume that they are injured than to ignore symptoms and ask the child to “shake it off.”

Head injuries are very serious and can all too often be permanent, life-altering events.  You can’t be too careful here.

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