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How to Identify Childhood Concussions and Reduce the Risk

Updated March 8, 2021 | By Wilson Kehoe Winingham staff

Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are caused by blows to the head or body, which cause the brain to move quickly back and forth inside the skull and can potentially lead to dramatic neurological changes. Concussions are a mild form of TBI.

Childhood Concussion Statistics and Legislation

Child and teenage student-athletes are particularly vulnerable to concussions, especially those who play contact sports. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2014, over 873,000 TBI-related emergency room visits were children. In the same year, TBI also contributed to the death of 2,529 children.

As of February 2014, 48 states in the United States, including Indiana, enact the Zackery Lystedt Law, a comprehensive youth sports concussion safety law. The provisions of this law call for school districts to develop concussion guidelines and educational programs, for parents and guardians of student-athletes to complete annual concussion and head injury reports, and for teams and athletic programs to remove students who are suspected of suffering a concussion and require previously concussed athletes to submit written clearance from a medical professional to return to play.

Given how serious concussions are, and how much more prone child athletes are compared to college-level and professional athletes, it’s important to make sure that people are informed of head injuries: how they happen, their symptoms, and how to treat them.

Identifying a Head Injury

Not all head injuries are concussions, which is important to keep in mind. Pre-concussion head injuries don’t have the same symptoms as full concussions and often go unnoticed. When evaluating an injured athlete, check for memory loss and make sure that they remain conscious. Common symptoms of a concussion include:

  • Confusion, dizziness, difficulty with balance and coordination
  • Short-term memory loss
  • Slow to answer questions
  • Changes in mood, behavior, or personality
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Complaints of a headache
  • Changes in vision
  • Sensitivity to light or sound
  • Unconsciousness

Athletes who have a suspected or confirmed concussion shouldn’t return to playing until they’ve been evaluated and cleared by an appropriate healthcare professional. If the injured athlete falls unconscious, take them to the hospital immediately.

Causes of Concussions

Many sports-related injuries are preventable. Injuries, such as concussions, are commonly the result of a lack of diligence or preparation before the game starts. Here are some of the ways that an athlete can end up with a head injury:

  • Preexisting medical conditions and other individual risk factors
  • Inadequate or poor physical exams for individuals before the start of the season
  • Poor pre-season conditioning
  • Poor instruction, training, or coaching
  • Poorly-fitting, damaged, or otherwise improper safety equipment, gear, and uniforms
  • Mismatched sizes/body weights of players on a field
  • Unsafe playing fields or other game surfaces

Brain Injury and Concussion Prevention

Coaches, parents, and students can take care to reduce the risk of injury. Coaches should know first aid, have the training to identify the symptoms of a concussion, and avoid overworking injured athletes. Athletes should receive a physical examination before participating in team sports. Equipment and uniforms should be examined to make sure that there are no risks associated with the gear that they’re using. Players should have access to the appropriate helmet sizes and mouth guards. Children should be competing with kids who are similar in size and skill level to avoid rough tackles on the field.

Contact a Personal Injury Attorney Today

Your student athlete doesn’t deserve to suffer from the potentially long-lasting effects of an injury in a game. If appropriate safety measures aren’t taken, an injury to your child could be the end result. If your child has been injured as a result of neglect from a coach or team management, you could be grounds for a lawsuit.

Contact the Indianapolis Personal Injury Attorneys of Wilson Kehoe Winingham. The lawyers at WKW can help you get the compensation you deserve. Call 317.920.6400 or fill out an online contact form for a free, no-obligation case evaluation.

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