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Concussions

Concussions are a traumatic brain injury caused by a blow or jolt to the head that causes the soft tissue of the brain to knock against the skull's bony surface. Although they range from mild to severe, they're all serious injuries that can harm the way the brain works.

• Each year, as many as 3.8 million sports- and recreation-related concussions occur across the U.S.
• Athletes of all ages participating across the spectrum of sports are susceptible.
• Most patients will have symptoms that last for a few days or a week. A more serious concussion can last for weeks, months or even longer.
• The brain is still developing into the teenage years.  This makes concussion in a young person much different than in an adult.
 
At the Sports Medicine Clinic at Children’s, we specialize in diagnosing and managing post-concussion recovery for children and teens.

Concussions will typically require a minimum of two visits – one for diagnosis, the other for follow-up.

The initial examination will likely include a physical examination, covering:
• Cognition
• Neurology
• Balance
• Any signs of deteriorating neurological function.

  Call 911 or head immediately to the Emergency Department if your child has any of the following symptoms
  •  Seizures (twitching or jerking movement of parts of the body; may look stiff)
  • Weakness or tingling in the arms or legs
  • Cannot recognize people or places
  • Agitated
  • Impaired consciousness
  • Difficult to arouse or unable to awaken
  • Repeated vomiting
  • Slurred speech
  • Bloody or clear fluid from the nose or ears

The Two Phases of Concussion Recovery

I. Return to Play
By law, after suffering a concussion, students will not be allowed to participate in any school-supervised team activities (practice or games) until:
• They have been evaluated by a licensed health care professional
• They have received written, signed clearance from their doctor and written permission from their parents or guardians
• They have submitted that material to the school

Want to learn more about concussion-related “return to play” legislation in Nebraska and Iowa?

II. Return to Learn
Concussions are a trauma to the brain. Unfortunately, that means they can lead to learning problems that can impact academic performance.

Appropriate management of the “Return to Learn” process is a critical part of concussion recovery. At the Sports Medicine Clinic at Children’s, we will customize a “Return to Learn” plan for your child.

He or she will move through the plan at his or her own pace, typically graduating from complete cognitive rest – to light cognitive activity – to a gradual increase of school-specific activity, culminating in a return to school.