How do you know if your child has suffered a mild or severe concussion? Interestingly enough, there is little data to determine not only how bad the concussion is, but when the patient has fully recovered.
Steps have been taken to help prevent certain types of concussions, such as those caused by shaken baby syndrome and certain sports activities. In the former, the Child & Family Research Institute has implemented an education program that teaches new parents how to cope with their child’s crying before they get to the point where they are tempted to shake them. In the latter example, more effective helmets and protective gear have been developed and enforced during sports play.
While we won’t argue that prevention is the best overall method when it comes to concussions, we believe that creating tools to better diagnose and rate the degree of brain damage will help medical personnel to provide more effective services. Keith Yeates, PhD at Nationwide Children’s Hospital says that doctors typically rely on the patient to tell them when they are feeling better, and he believes that there is a better way to figure out the risk level for these kids.
In a recent study (March issue of Pediatrics), Dr. Yeates monitored concussed children for a year. He found that “while most kids had few problems, one out of every four experiences significant post concussive symptoms, some of which never fully resolved. And those whose concussions resulted in a loss of consciousness, amnesia or an abnormal CT scan were more likely to have symptoms that persist.”
Dr. Yeates plans to apply what he learned through this study to classify concussions based on their level of severity in order to provide physicians with a better chance to help their patients recover.
The Centers for Disease Control stresses that you don’t have to be knocked out in order to have a concussion. It’s important to recognize the signs as they are often subtle and the symptoms can grow worse over time. Look for symptom’s such as headache, dizziness, light sensitivity, irritability, trouble with concentration, fatigue, or nausea and vomiting. If any of these worsen, then it’s time to take your child to the emergency room.
With more physicians realizing the importance of differentiating between concussion types, we can hope to see increased recovery time and more specific services that will keep your child’s concussion from becoming worse.