Understanding concussions in student athletes

Signs of a concussion include a headache, dizziness, nausea

Accidents and injuries can happen with young athletes, so it’s important to get evaluated quickly by a team trained in providing specialized emergency care for kids.

According to Dr. Megan O’Brien, Pediatric Emergency Room Physician at Christus Children’s, one of the most common sports injuries in young athletes is concussions.

A concussion is a brain injury.

“People think usually it happens because of a head bump or your kid gets hit in the head. It’s actually an acceleration, deceleration. So basically, it’s when the body is moving all of a sudden, the head is moving all of a sudden, and it stops, and the brain keeps moving,” O’Brien said.

O’Brien said the injury happens at the cellular level, not at any structure of the brain.

“So, basically, it impairs how the brain talks to itself and sends signals,” O’Brien said.

Signs of a concussion include a headache, dizziness, nausea, sensitivity to light and sound and general slowness.

These signs might develop right after the injury, or the child might appear fine and a couple of hours later, the symptoms will start, O’Brien said. According to O’Brien, these are the “Don’ts” for a child with a concussion:

  • Don’t use your phone.
  • Don’t use your tablet.
  • Don’t play video games.
  • Don’t go to school.
  • Don’t do physical activities.

If you think your child has a concussion, O’Brien recommends they see a health care provider.

For more information on Christus Children’s, visit their website at CHRISTUSchildrens.org.