Withstanding any head injury-even a seemingly minor one – makes children and adults susceptible to a concussion?  Each year, thousands of youngsters suffer concussions, which often remain undiagnosed.  If your child is in contact sports, there is a risk of the contact ending up in concussion.  In fact research suggest that the number of documented cases of concussions among children is on the rise, and is a source of growing concern among skiers, soccer and football players.

Concussions, More Common Than Thought

Sports related concussions are common injuries in children and adolescents.  In fact, pediatric concussions are more common than most adults realize.  One reason is that research shows that young athletes often fail to report concussive symptoms (Pediatrics 2009; 123: 114-23).  In other cases, symptoms are misdiagnosed or dismissed.  Symptoms of concussions, such as headaches or forgetfulness, are often attributed to other circumstances.  Young athletes, their coaches, teachers, parents and care providers may also lack education about the signs of concussion.  Consequently, it’s common for children to be unaware that they have suffered a concussion, even one that is severe.  In one analysis of a cohort of 12 to 17 year old football players, four out of five did not realize they had suffered a concussion (Br J Sports Med 2008; 42: 110-5)

It is important to note that concussions do not always involve a loss of consciousness.  Most youths who endure concussions never black out.  For instance, in a four year study of 755 children aged 5-18 with concussions, only half experienced a loss of consciousness (Br J Sports Med 2008; 42: 664-9).  It is also vital to be aware that signs or symptoms of concussions often fail to appear until days – or even weeks following a head trauma.

Concussion 101

The brain is a soft organ cushioned by spinal fluid and encased in the skull.  Normally, the spinal fluid keeps the brain from banging into the skull.  However, in the case of a concussion, the brain “hits” the skull, resulting in a temporary loss of brain function.  While concussions range in severity from mild to severe, ALL temporarily interfere with brain activity.  Concussion may affect memory, judgment, reflexes, speech, balance and coordination. Signs and symptoms of a concussion can include:

  • Feeling confused, dazed or stunned
  • Memory loss
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Lack of coordination
  • Slow replies to questions
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Behavior or personality changes
  • Headache
  • Nausea, Vomiting
  • Balance problems or dizziness
  • Double, fuzzy, or blurred vision
  • Sensitivity to light or noise
  • Sluggishness, Feeling foggy or groggy
  • Dilated Pupils

Your Family Chiropractor can Diagnose and Care for Concussions

Chiropractors are often the first health care provider to care for patients who are suffering from a head injury, such as those incurred in sports or car accidents.  Chiropractors, especially ones who are trained in pediatric care and trauma like Dr. Kimberly Maxwell, regularly manage athletes who suffer from concussions.

Chiropractors, like medical providers, use a specific assessment tool to evaluate, assess, and manage concussions in athletes, with the end goal of safely returning the athlete back to the sport.  This assessment tool is used to evaluate symptoms, physical signs, Glasgow Coma Scale, sideline assessment, cognitive assessment, balance, and coordination.  They understand the neurologic symptoms associated with concussion and can advise on the proper approach to healing, and safe return to sports.

Concussions Also Usually Involve a Neck Injury and/or Sprain

Because concussion is a brain injury caused by a direct blow to the head, neck or face, there is a good chance that the blow has also caused a misalignment or subluxation of the spine (often missed in a medical evaluation).   This is similar to whiplash and neck sprains. Dr. Kimberly Maxwell can evaluate whether you demonstrate signs of neck injuries commonly associated with concussion and provide you with relief of neck pain and cervicogenic headaches (headaches coming from neck strain and misalignments).  Different from your medical provider, Chiropractors can address this component of the injury, often missed or not addressed by medical providers,  for a swifter recovery and a natural approach to headaches and neck issues.

Important Steps if Your Child has or Might Have a Concussion

Immediately discontinue participation in the sport until professionally evaluated. Contact our office (www.AbundantHealthFamilyChiro.com or Call 406-585-7000) to schedule an evaluation.  Avoid aspirin, anti-inflammatory medications, sleep agents and alcohol (if you are of age). Through care at our office we can provide relief from headaches and neck strain, as well as monitor recovery.  Should your child need to be  referred out to another health professional for more advanced imaging, we will let you know.

Athletes who return to sports too soon while the brain is still healing from a a concussion have a greater risk of having a second concussion.  second or later concussions can be serious and cause permanent brain damage.  Concussions take time to heal.  Do NOT let your youngster return to physical activity until the doctor says they are healed and ready.

Concussion Prevention

Proper balance and posture.  Research shows that a fall is to blame for more than half of the concussions sustained during organized sports (Br J Sports Med 2006; 40:163-8).  A tendency to fall may result form lack of coordination and poor posture, which may be linked to a spinal alignment, dysfunction and subluxation.  Dr. Kimberly Maxwell corrects a common malady in the spine known as vertebral subluxation.  Vertebral subluxation is a condition associated with limited range of motion, with sensory/motor interference in the nervous system causing spinal dysfunction, coordination issues, and sometimes core strength weakness.  This condition is eliminated through precise, gentle maneuvers call chiropractic adjustments. Keeping regularly scheduled chiropractic appointments for your young athletes, especially when active in sports,  will help them maintain proper range of motion, balance, and reduce their risks for accident falls.

21.5 Million Kids Age 6-17 are Involved in Team Sports

If your kids are a part of the estimated 21.5 million kids involved in team sports,  then knowing the signs and treatment for concussions is a necessity, as well as knowing how to prevent them.In Bozeman, Dr. Kimberly Maxwell at Abundant Health Family Chiropractic is THE go-to resource for the health and wellbeing of your entire family, starting with prenatal care!  Being 20 years in practice, you can trust her expertise and experience in serving you and your family, keeping you healthy, well, and wise.

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