Concussions also happen off the field

PHILADELPHIA – While a lot of young people suffer concussions during organized, contact sports, more than half of concussions happen off the playing fields and most likely during recess on playgrounds. 

Nine-year-old Lenny Binczewski likes piano, but he would much rather throw a ball or ride a bike.  

But when Lenny suffered a serious concussion during school recess, his doctor and nurse suggested rest to avoid taxing his brain.
"The nurse had suggested that we follow concussion protocol just to be on the safe side," said Lenny's mother, Amanda Binczewski. "My husband woke him up twice. I woke him up one time. He seemed fine the next morning, so we still were not concerned at all at that point."  

Two days later, Lenny's head still hurt, so that meant a trip to the hospital. 

Lenny had what's called a global headache.

"One thing I remember is that he had hit his head in the back, but when she asked him where his head hurt, he said, 'It hurts all over here,'" Amanda Binczewski said.

That "all over" pain is more consistent with a concussion.

"It's not a direct contusion on the brain that's a problem. Actually, what happens is because your brain shakes inside your skull, the neurons all stretch. It's really a more diffuse injury," said Dr. Christina Master, a sports medicine pediatrician. 

Lenny's doctor ordered rest to calm things down and avoid what's known as second impact syndrome. 

"Because you hadn't quite recovered from the first injury, there's a major catastrophic event that happens," Master said.

Following are some symptoms of a concussion:

  • Being dizzy or feeling something is "off."
  • Feeling nauseated.
  • Not being able to maintain good balance.
  • Seeing double or blurred vision. 

Master said that children make up the largest portion of people who get concussions, and that professional athletes are the tip of the iceberg.  

If you have any doubts about a head injury, call your doctor.