By: Yvonne Griggs, Owner, Alert/Best Nursing & Home Care, Inc.
Concussion, also known as “mild traumatic brain injury”has been highlighted in the news lately, with coverage of the long-term effects of these injuries on professional athletes. This has brought awareness and concern to health care professionals and parents.
Pediatric healthcare providers know that people of all ages can suffer concussions. Adolescents are most at risk for negative consequences. In addition to sports, automobile accidents are the leading cause of concussion in youth.
It is known that concussion is a functional rather than structural injury, therefore radiograph or MRI cannot be used to diagnose injury and the signs of concussion are often overlooked.
“Prompt recognition of the concussion within the first forty-eight hours of a head jolt or blow and treatment with immediate cognitive, or brain and physical rest are crucial to preventing prolonged symptoms of concussion.”
When there has been a concussive injury, the brain needs an influx of glucose energy in order to heal, but cerebral blood flow fuel energy is actually decreased when there is an injury. Physical and mental activity will divert the limited brain energy supply from the injury site and will prolong symptoms. The brain needs to rest.
What does rest entail? There should not be any physical activity that causes perspiration, no computer or social media activity, no schoolwork, and no video games or texting. Short periods of watching TV or reading for pleasure may be permitted as long as they don’t cause any symptoms such as headache.
- Symptoms remain after three weeks of rest
- The patient has a history of concussions
- The patient has a seizure or migraine disorder
- The patient has preexisting attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, or other physiological issue
- The patient undergoes an initial neuropsychological evaluation that reveals persistent problems
- The patient has difficulty with returning to school and their symptoms reappear
* Information for this article originally from Dr. Flaura Winston, Pediatrician and doctorally trained bioengineer at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.