Ask the BJC Expert

Ask the BJC Expert

Concussions in Kids

Published on Monday, September 09, 2019

As another year of school starts up, so does another season of fall athletics. As kids become more active in sports, the risk of concussions increases. Make sure your child plays it safe by better understanding these head injuries, recognizing the symptoms and knowing what to do if one is diagnosed.

Brain Trauma
A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury. A common misconception is that it involves swelling, bleeding or bruising of the brain, but it’s actually that the brain just doesn’t function normally after it experiences trauma. While sports receive much attention, a concussion can be caused by any sort of trauma to the head or near the head that causes the brain to move in the skull — such as a bike accident or fall on the playground. 

A Tricky Diagnosis
Concussions in children typically present the same as in adults, though there may be a difference in severity of the symptoms or in how kids describe them. Because it’s not an injury you can see on the outside, it can be challenging to identify a concussion. Some testing can assess balance or memory, but diagnosis often relies on a physician’s assessment of the patient’s symptoms following head trauma. These might include headaches, dizziness, sensitivity to light or noise, difficulty focusing or concentrating, difficulty sleeping, mood issues or overall just not feeling like their normal self.

Taking Time to Heal
While many concussions will get better with time, proper care is important to prevent further injury to the brain. It’s recommended to reduce both mental and physical activity following a concussion. For kids in school, that might mean reducing their workload to lessen stress and strain on the brain. Likewise, physical activity should be reduced, but brisk walking or light work on an exercise bike may be encouraged. Contrary to past recommendations, studies have shown that reducing instead of completely eliminating activity has helped speed up recovery.

Preventing concussions can be difficult, but by enforcing the rules and not playing aggressively — in addition to an increased awareness and understanding of head injuries — we can help keep kids from getting hurt.

Mark Halstead, MD, is medical director of the orthopedic clinic at Progress West Hospital. He also directs the Washington University Sports Concussion Program and is medical director of the Young Athlete Center at the St. Louis Children’s Specialty Care Center. You can schedule an appointment with Dr. Halstead and learn more about Washington University Orthopedics here.

Rate this article:
Comments (0)Number of views (2204)

Recent Interviews

Shoulder Health and Surgery

What's important in keeping your shoulders healthy?  When's the right time to have surgery?  Our expert tackles some of the frequently asked questions about shoulders and surgery.  

Primary Care That’s Easier Than Ever

Technology has helped make it easier than ever to be seen by a primary care physician, says John Paul Shoup, BJC Medical Group internal medicine and pediatrics physician in Wentzville, MO.

Women’s Health - A Holistic Approach

Caitlin Rogers, DO, BJC Medical Group primary care physician and obstetrics specialist at Progress West Hospital, explains the benefits of women taking a comprehensive approach to their health care.

Vaccine Myths

Immunizations have been a hot topic recently. With different information floating around, it can be difficult to know what to trust. John Paul Shoup, MD, a BJC Medical Group internal medicine and pediatric physician, sorts fact from fiction to help you make healthy decisions for yourself and your family.

Convenient Care or the ER: Which Option Do I Choose?

When faced with an illness or injury, do you visit a convenient care or head to the emergency room (ER)? Knowing their unique capabilities helps ensure you and your family get the right care in the right setting. Learn more about their differences so you can confidently choose the best-suited option.

Find a doctor or make an appointment: 636.928.WELL
General Information: 800.392.0936
BJC HealthCare