A little rough-and-tumble action while playing in school or at the playground may seem part of everyday life for kids. What many parents may not realize is how often children's games become a cause of head injury.
Each year, there are more than 44 million kids who take part in sports and recreation, and nearly 2 million cases of sports and recreation-related concussions (SRRCs) estimated to occur among kids who are 18 years old or younger.
Of this number, between half a million and 1.2 million kids go untreated, experts report in the journal Pediatrics. And of those who do receive medical treatment, about 380,000 are seen as outpatient cases.
Earlier this month, Tech Times reported the concussion rate in children may be vastly underestimated. This proves how SRRCs are a population concern.
"Better surveillance for concussions due to sports and recreational activities is needed," says Dr. Mersine Bryan, a pediatrician from the University of Washington and the study's lead researcher. "[S]o we can understand how kids are getting concussions and [find] ways we can prevent concussions."
For this study, researchers from the University of Washington and Seattle Children’s Research Institute collaborated with colleagues from the University of Colorado.
Understanding Concussions And Knowing What To Do
To help kids who may be suffering a concussion during playtime, it is important for parents and guardians to understand the nature of this injury.
As a type of traumatic brain injury (TBI), a concussion occurs from a blow to the head or jolt to the body that causes the brain to shake, bounce or twist inside the skull. This reaction may lead to brain cells being damaged. Here are three basic steps to prevent further damage if a concussion is suspected.
Step 1: Stop The Action
Children who experience this type of trauma should immediately be taken out of play to avoid sustaining the "second impact syndrome," as Dr. Steven Flanagan of the NYU Langone Medical Center calls a succeeding concussion that takes place even before a child recovers from the first one.
Step 2: Check For Symptoms Of A Concussion
Parents should note: not all concussions lead to a loss of consciousness, but some symptoms of head trauma include headache and increased pressure inside the skull; confusion; foggy vision; ringing in the ears; vomiting and nausea; a delayed response; and slurred speech.
Step 3: Get Urgent Medical Help For All Injuries
The most important step is to get professional medical help immediately and ensure the child remains in a stable position by keeping him or her still.
Why Young Athletes Fail To Report Concussions
In a separate investigation on unreported cases of concussion among high school football players, released in 2004, a research team identified three main reasons why young athletes conceal their injury:
• Players do not think the injury is serious enough to warrant medical attention.
• Players are motivated to continue in the competition.
• Players lack awareness of a probable concussion.
According to the researchers, if a concussion goes untreated, a player faces an increased risk of the injury recurring and producing "cumulative and catastrophic effects."
"Future prevention initiatives," the team reports, "should focus on education to improve athlete awareness of the signs of concussion and potential risks of unreported injury."
Watch the clip below to find out what happens to the brain during a concussion: