March is National Brain Injury Awareness Month and physicians at The Children’s Center Rehabilitation Hospital are reminding parents to never ignore a head injury. Dr. Steven Couch is a Neurodevelopmental Pediatrician at The Children’s Center Rehabilitation Hospital. Couch worries about concussions in high school students. “High school athletes are especially at risk because they’re now at an age and size where they can give each other serious concussions during sports,” said Couch. “On top of that, athletes want to play, so they’ll often dismiss important warning signs.”
What is a concussion?
A concussion is a brain injury that is caused by a hit to the head or body that causes the brain to shake and injures it so it doesn’t work properly. Concussions can change the way a brain normally works and can range from mild to severe. While concussions can occur without loss of consciousness or other obvious signs, proper recognition and response can prevent further injury or even death.
“We are essentially run by our brain and if you damage your brain, you’re in serious trouble,” said Couch. “If you damage your foot, you can get along without a foot, but you can’t get along without a brain.”
Since concussions can happen outside of sports, it’s also important for parents to be on the lookout for signs of a concussion after everyday life events, such as falls or car crashes.
What are the symptoms of a concussion?
While you can’t see a concussion, you may be able to recognize some of the symptoms right away. Other symptoms can show up days or hours after the injury. These symptoms include:
- Concentration or memory problems
- Balance problems or dizziness
- Double or blurry vision
To help recognize a concussion, watch for these two events:
- A forceful blow to the head or body that results in rapid movement of the head
- Any change in your child’s behavior, thinking or physical functioning.
It’s important for parents to be able to recognize the signs of a concussion. “As the brain is recovering from a concussion, it’s fragile, so if it gets hit a second time while recovering, there can be even more damage. You want to give the brain time to heal before you decide to risk hurting it again,” said Couch.
Physicians at The Children’s Center Rehabilitation Hospital treat children and teenagers with traumatic brain injuries. As Oklahoma’s only inpatient pediatric rehabilitation hospital, patients receive a wide variety of services, from 24-hour medical care to education to therapy. If you would like to donate to help patients with brain injuries at the Hospital, please click here.