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The hardest injuries to diagnose and treat are the ones we can’t visualize. Imagine trying to tend to your child’s scraped knee if you couldn’t see it. Even with all the publicity that concussions receive, they still remain, in large part an enigma in the health care community.

Children and teens are more likely to get a concussion and take longer to recover than adults. Among children and youth in Canada (10-18 years) who visit an emergency department for a sports-related head injury, 39 per cent were diagnosed with concussions, while a further 24 per cent were possible concussions. Chiropractic has been found to be an excellent piece of the puzzle for dealing with concussions and post-concussion syndrome.

What is a concussion?

A concussion is a traumatic brain injury caused by a bump, blow or jolt to the head or a hit to the body that causes the brain to move back and forth inside the skull. This sudden movement can cause the brain to bounce around or twist in the skull, stretching and damaging the brain cells and creating chemical changes in the brain.

A common misconception is that you have to lose consciousness in order to be diagnosed with a concussion. While some concussion sufferers will lose consciousness, any sudden hit to the head can cause a concussion. In fact, a brief loss of consciousness or “blacking out” doesn’t mean a concussion is any more or less serious than one where a person didn’t lose consciousness.

What signs will my child show if they have suffered a concussion?

This is where things can be a little tricky. Concussion symptoms depend on the person and the injury, and they may not be noticeable for hours or even days. Most in health care agree that the presence of any of these symptoms is relatively common for those who suffer a concussion:

  • Headache or a feeling of pressure in the head
  • Confusion
  • Amnesia around how the concussion was caused
  • Dizziness or “seeing stars”
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Slurred speech
  • Delayed response to questions
  • Appearing dazed
  • Fatigue

In most cases, the symptoms should subside in a week or two following the traumatic event. If you think your child may have suffered a concussion be sure to have them assessed by a healthcare professional shortly after the trauma occurred.

Why is my child is still displaying symptoms long after their concussion?

If your child is still feeling the effects of their head injury three months after the event, they may be suffering from what is known as post-concussion syndrome (PCS).

Five to 10 per cent of those who suffer a concussion will experience symptoms that will last beyond the normal time for recovery.  As is with everything concussion related, how PCS affects people greatly differs from case-to-case.

How can my child be treated for a concussion or PCS?

While there is still much for the health care community to learn about concussions and concussion recovery, there are still steps that parents can take to help their child recover. These include;

  • Having your child get plenty of rest. Keep a regular sleep schedule, including no late nights.
  • Making sure the child avoids high-risk/ high-speed activities such as riding a bicycle, playing sports, or climbing playground equipment. Children should not return to these types of activities until their health care professional says they are well enough.
  • Avoiding bright lights and loud noises. These can make concussion symptoms worse.
  • Eating well and drinking lots of non-caffeinated beverages. Caffeine is a stimulant that can put added stress on your child’s brain.
  • If your child is beginning to feel better, ease them back into physical activity. Let them do light activity first and check to see if any concussion symptoms have returned.

Your chiropractor is also a great asset to have in the management of your child’s concussion. Your chiropractor has the expertise to evaluate, diagnose, and direct the management of concussion patients.

Also, many concussions bring with them other effects such as whiplash, joint dysfunction, neck strain, facet syndromes and muscle spasms. Your chiropractor is an expert on how to treat these conditions and help get your child on the road to recovery.