Children sustain concussions more often than most people may realize. According to NPR, about 1.1 to 1.9 million children are treated for head injuries in the U.S. each year. Researchers also think many more head injuries go unreported. The reason these injuries sometimes go unreported is the symptoms can be subtle and are not always immediately apparent. Concussion symptoms include:
- Dizziness or other balance issues
- Sensitivity to noise and light
- Feeling tired or other disruptions in sleep patterns
- Trouble concentrating
- Difficulty remembering things
- Easily angered or irritable
- Feelings of being groggy or dazed
A child may suffer a concussion when participating in sports or playing on the playground or at home. Children and adults may also suffer concussions or other brain injuries if they are involved in a motor vehicle accident.
Though concussions are serious injuries, new research shows children suffering from concussions can return to regular activity sooner than previously recommended.
Such a long period of rest not needed
In the past, children with concussions were kept home from school in a darkened room. Doctors recommended no screens, and children were barred from physical activity. This treatment was usually recommended for a week or more. This long period of inactivity felt like a punishment to many kids. That could lead to feelings of anxiety and isolation.
New research shows after just a few days of rest, children can return to school, use electronics and even start physical activity. Doctors believe one or two days of complete rest is still needed. After that, children who have suffered concussions can ease back into their normal activities.
Balancing stimulation with needed rest
The new concussion treatment recommendations focus on balancing children’s desire for stimulation with their need for rest. Each child needs to be treated individually and eased back into his or her routine. Researchers suggest starting children back at half days at school. Children who have suffered a concussion should still get a temporary reprieve from homework and tests.
Ease them back into physical activity
If children play sports, they should not resume these activities right away. The guidelines recommend starting out with walks or time on an exercise bike.
The new guidelines also suggest it is okay to allow children back on computer or phone screens sooner. There is no research that indicates screen time hurts someone suffering from a concussion, though it could make headaches worse.
If symptoms worsen, give your child a break
The big takeaway for parents is if concussion symptoms worsen when your child tries to resume regular activities, take a break and then back off on that activity for a while longer. If symptoms persist or worsen, a parent should reach out their doctor immediately.