Stay in the Game

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*Message from Moms In Hawaii* 

We are resharing this excellent blog by our Founding Sponsor The Queen’s Medical Center to coincide with the release of the upcoming movie “Concussion”, a story of American immigrant Dr. Bennet Omalu, the brilliant forensic neuropathologist who made the first discovery of CTE, a football-related brain trauma, in a pro player and fought for the truth to be known.  

Here is some important information about kids and concussions from Dr. Rachel Coel,  medical director and staff physician at the Queen’s Center for Sports Medicine.


Stay In The Game

By Rachel Coel, MD, PhD, FAAP, CAQSM

As the new school year starts up, children and youth are not only getting back to the books, but back in the game.  Taking part in sports is a great way to learn discipline, gain strength, build teamwork, increase physical fitness and have fun.  Injuries, however, will sometimes occur.  When it comes to concussions, Dr. Rachel Coel, medical director at The Queen’s Center for Sports Medicine, shares important information on what parents need to know for the safety and well-being of their child.

What is a concussion and how do I know when to suspect a child has one?

Dr. Coel: A concussion is an injury causing a disturbance in brain function. It’s either caused by a direct blow to the head or by a blow to the body that causes the head to twist or shake. You don’t need to lose consciousness, or faint, to have one; in fact 75 percent of concussions do not result in a loss of consciousness.

While concussions can be hard to recognize, it usually causes symptoms an injured child feels, such as headaches, light sensitivity and nausea. Signs that others may notice include unsteady balance, vomiting, forgetfulness, blank stare, disorientation, confusion, slurred speech or amnesia. Abnormal behavior may be present, such as angry outbursts, crying or running to the wrong side of the field.

If a young athlete has a concussion, what can he or she expect will happen next?

Dr. Coel: If a concussion is suspected by a coach, referee or athletic trainer, the child will be removed from the practice or game setting to avoid additional injury. The child will be sent to his or her primary doctor for further evaluation. Children with more serious head injuries may be sent to an emergency department. Most do not need an x-ray, CT scan or MRI of the head. The child will rest as instructed for a few days and then as symptoms diminish, he or she will increase levels of activity and schoolwork. All concussion patients should get medical clearance from a doctor in order to return to sports or PE. Most children return to school within two or three days after the injury, and back to sports within two to three weeks.

What options are there for treating a concussion in a young athlete?

Dr. Coel: Most cases resolve on their own with an initial period of rest for two to three days, focusing on sleep with a reasonable and consistent bedtime, and short naps. Concussion patients should reduce or stop the use of electronic devices, such as video games, computers, tablets and smartphones, and limit watching TV. Eating healthy and staying well hydrated are encouraged.

Parents should contact their child’s school to inform them of their concussion, as some children may need classroom adjustments during recovery. If a child is still struggling with symptoms one to two weeks after the concussion, some doctors may prescribe physical therapy to help rehabilitate the vestibular (balance) system, or may refer the injured patient to a sports concussion specialist, like Queen’s Sports Medicine, for further testing.

If a helmet was worn at the time of injury, the helmet should be checked for proper fit and for damage, and bike helmets should be replaced.

Parents who suspect their child may have a concussion should call their child’s doctor or take him or her to an urgent care clinic or emergency room.

Dr. Rachel Coel is medical director and a staff physician at the Queen’s Center for Sports Medicine. The center provides comprehensive care for the treatment and prevention of injuries, including concussions, in athletes and active people of all ages.

For more information or to make an appointment, call 691-4449 or visit http://queensmedicalcenter.org/sports-medicine.

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