Dr. Sue explains why parents need to take concussion seriously. They are a brain injury.I have blogged previously about the latest recommendations concerning concussions and restrictions on activity after sustaining a concussion. This subject has been in the news a great deal lately, not only within the medical community, but also within the NFL and other major sports groups.
There is more and more data to show that concussions in and of themselves are dangerous, but that repetitive concussions may cause even greater damage to the brain, especially to the still developing brain of young athletes. I just saw an eleven year old boy who is a soccer play, actually, he is the goalie. He was at school, just playing around in the gym, when he sustained a concussion after running into another child head on and falling backwards. The boy remembered falling, but shortly thereafter he became disoriented, could not take a test due to the fact that his memory was impaired, and subsequently vomited. His concerned parents brought him to my office to be evaluated. By the time I saw him he was feeling better, and he had a normal neurological exam. Based upon the history of his injury he was diagnosed with a concussion. Because of this he and his parents were advised that he not participate in sports for a minimum of a week. Of course, as it would turn out, his school soccer team was supposed to be in the State championship game in 48 hours. Their team was 92 -0. After much discussion and a conversation with his coach the parents we all agreed that he would not play. The following day, I received an email from his father who felt that his son was doing well and was “back to normal”. He had been re-thinking the issue of his son not playing and wanted me to reconsider my instructions for his son not to play. He even noted that he himself had played college soccer and had often played after suffering a concussion. He felt that if his son played (if he was absolutely needed to secure a win) and did not do “headers” that he would be okay. What was he thinking? I don’t really think he was thinking about anything other than his son’s team winning a State championship. He seemed to have tunnel vision, and could not see that there would be many more soccer games in his son’s future, but another concussion could cause long term problems for his son. So, I stood by my recommendation, for which his mother “thanked me”. His team played the game and of course they lost. I felt terribly for their loss, but at the same time, knew that medically this was the appropriate decision. So many times, we as parents get so “wrapped up” in our children’s lives, whether it be in sports, academics or even having the “best” birthday party, that we lose sight of the “big picture”. I see the” big picture” as trying to make the best decisions for our children, given the best information that we have to help make that decision. Many of those decisions may not be easy, but we as parents know they are right. Whether that is keeping your child from playing a soccer game after suffering a concussion, or taking away a teen’s cell phone and computer privileges after they have been drinking under age. There are so many of these difficult decisions and we all hope to make them correctly. This patients family did, and I am proud of them! That's your daily dose for today. We'll chat again tomorrow! Send your question or comment to Dr. Sue!