About a week ago, my son took the bus to school as usual. I walked my daughter to her school, did my usual Monday morning volunteering, and was home by nine-thirty, all ready to start my day. Then my son’s school called.
“Your son hit his head during gym class, and is showing signs of a concussion. We would like you to come get him.”
As a parent, those are scary words to hear. Even so, as I drove to the school, I assumed the teachers were probably over-reacting. I assumed I’d take him to the doctor, keep him home the rest of the day, and send him back to school the next day.
I was wrong.
Instead, I took him to the emergency department where we were seen immediately, he stayed home from school the rest of the week, and we are only now starting a back-to-school plan with limited activity and a modified workload.
During this whole process I found some great resources on concussions and how to recognize them, which I’ve written about below. Most of it comes from About Kids Health, which is run by Sick Kids. I’ve also included some of my own experiences.
Bumps and blows to the head are fairly common in children, particularly when they are learning to walk or do something requiring balance, like riding a bike. Most simply result in a bump or a bruise, and occasionally a cut. Sometimes, however, a more serious injury to the brain can occur. This is a concussion.
Some signs and symptoms of concussion (please see About Kids Health for a more complete list):
- Problems with vision
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Problems with balance
- Loss of consciousness
- Slowed reaction times
- Memory Loss
In my son’s case, he experienced a headache, blurred and double vision, and drowsiness. He also had everything go black at the moment when he hit his head, though he could still hear; no one is quite sure whether he actually lost consciousness, but the general consensus seems to be to treat it as such.
Symptoms can occur right away, but some can take hours or days to appear. It’s important to observe your child closely following a head injury, and take note if they appear to be acting differently.
You should take your child to the doctor after a head injury if they have a cut that requires stitches, or if you think they might have a concussion.
Occasionally a concussion can result in a more serious brain injury. Some of the signs or symptoms:
- Poor feeding
- Throwing up repeatedly
- Inconsolable crying
- Drowsiness and/or unable to be awakened
- Bulging fontanelle (soft spot)
- Headache that does not go away or gets worse
- Throwing up repeatedly
- Changes in behaviour, including confusion or agitation
- Problems with vision, speech, or walking
- Weakness or numbness in a limb
If your child shows any of these symptoms, call 911 or go to the Emergency Department right away.
A few conclusions:
- Kids bump their heads. A lot. Most times it’s minor and not a concussion, but if you’re ever in doubt, don’t hesitate to go to the doctor. That’s why they’re there.
- Helmets are our friends. We can prevent and minimize a lot of head injuries if we take certain precautions, and make our kids wear helmets during activities that have a high risk of injury, such as riding bikes, skateboarding, skiing, etc. As parents we can model this behaviour to our children, and keep ourselves safe in the process.
- Accidents happen and we can’t bubble-wrap the world. The incident that caused my son’s concussion was a freak accident. It could have happened anywhere, at anytime, to anyone. The only precautions that could have been taken were to not do the activity in the first place, and I wouldn’t want that. My son was having fun, and being active, and I wouldn’t have stopped that for anything.
In 2018, a new law called Rowan’s Law was passed in Ontario. It will help protect people who play sports, or play active games in schools, help teachers, parents/guardians and coaches learn about preventing concussions and help people who get concussions to recover. Thanks to Rowan’s Law, all sports organizations and schools in Ontario will have new rules in place around concussions. Even when we do our best to prevent injuries there is always some risk. Rowan’s Law will help coaches, teachers, and parents/guardians, know when a child has suffered a suspected concussion and that they should immediately stop participating in physical activities, and help them identify when it’s safe to play again.
Dealing with my son’s concussion has been quite an experience. It’s been scary and frustrating at times, but I’ve learned a lot as well. I wish it had never happened, but I am a better parent because it did.
Disclaimer: Material in this article is for informational use only. It is not a substitute for a doctor’s care or advice. If you suspect you or child may have a concussion, please contact your doctor right away.
This blog is written by Famiizuu blogger Lesley Stankaitis. Click here to read more of her blogs.
Simmons, Shawna, MD, FRCP, FAAP, PEng. (2014, November 17). Head injury and concussion. Retrieved from http://www.aboutkidshealth.ca/En/HealthAZ/ConditionsandDiseases/Injuries/Pages/head-injury-and-concussion.aspx