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Kids and concussion: Report says 6.8% of kids have had one

Kate Ying | Concussion

Your kid loves playing sports, maybe takes a rough tumble or two, but then gets back up and carries on with the day as if nothing ever happened. Your immediate instinct as a parent is to worry, but your child seems completely fine afterward–-and you don’t want to overreact. Or, perhaps, your child is interested in starting a new sport but you’re hesitant due to the potential health risks involved. 

Do either of those scenarios sound familiar? If so, you are not alone—they are ones that confront millions of families every year. Maybe you’ve even been dismissed by a coach or health professional who told you that it is normal for kids to “bump” their heads. On the contrary, a growing body of evidence, particularly a 2020 report from the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics, suggests a worrisomely high incidence of mild traumatic brain injury (also known as mTBI, or concussion) among children in the United States. 

Read on to learn more about this concerning trend of concussion in children and how Constant Therapy can help if your child, or a child you care about, has been affected. 

What the research shows about kids and concussion

Most notably, the 2020 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) found that 6.8% of all kids between the ages of 0 and 17 had experienced symptoms of concussion, including 3.9% who had received a medical diagnosis of concussion or brain injury. More worrisome still, that figure rose to 12.2% of children between the ages of 12 and 17 who had experienced symptoms of a concussion or brain injury, including 8.3% of people in that age range who had been diagnosed with mTBI by a health professional. Such figures track with the reality that children are more likely to begin or accelerate training in sports with a higher concussion risk in the preteen and teen years. While the NHIS data certainly suggests that concussion is far more common an injury among children than previously recognized, its sheer frequency should not serve to attenuate perceptions of its seriousness. Remember: A concussion is a brain injury and, as such, should be taken very seriously by parents, coaches, and doctors alike.  

What puts my child at higher risk of concussion?

Unfortunately, injury from any activity could potentially result in a concussion in kids, from horseplay between siblings in the house to riding a bicycle around the block. However, research does indicate that certain sports—especially contact sports—are more likely than others to result in concussions among children. These include:

  • American football 
  • Hockey 
  • Soccer
  • Wrestling 
  • Basketball
  • Field hockey
  • Baseball
  • Softball
  • Rugby 

All 50 states in the U.S. have some version of so-called Return to Play legislation, which governs required protocol following a suspected concussion incident (from educational initiatives to medical clearance). However, their exact nature and implementation varies from state to state. More important still, such laws are fundamentally reactive and do little to prevent concussions from occurring in the first place. Unfortunately, it thus falls on the shoulders of caregivers and coaches to assess potential risk factors in advance. 

What concussion symptoms should I look out for?

Any time a child sustains a head injury, even if at first glance it appears mild, it is a good idea to contact a physician for appropriate next steps. If the injuries seem more severe and you think your child needs immediate care, please contact local emergency services and/or proceed to the nearest emergency department as soon as possible. When it comes to head injury, you can never be too careful.

What is oftentimes tricky about concussion, though, is that it may not be immediately obvious that your child is experiencing symptoms—and some of them are difficult to discern from the typical vicissitudes of childhood. While not exhaustive, this is a list of potential signs to be on the lookout for

  • Changes in energy levels, such as sleeping more or less than usual, having trouble staying awake during the day, or falling asleep at night
  • Shorter attention spans
  • Memory or cognition issues (such as confusion) 
  • Loss of consciousness or seizures 
  • Sensitivity to sensory stimuli (especially light and noise)
  • Vertigo, unsteadiness, or nausea (especially recurrent vomiting) 
  • Blurred or distorted vision
  • Mood or affect changes 
  • Headache or complaints of continued or worsening head pain of any kind 

It is vital that your child not return to strenuous physical activity or sports of any kind until cleared by a physician with experience in treating concussion. Do not allow anyone—a coach, another parent, or even your eager-to-play child—to pressure you into rushing a recovery. 

How can Constant Therapy help kids with concussion?

Because concussions oftentimes produce lasting symptoms, especially in cognitive domains affecting memory and attention, it is crucial to start treatment as soon as possible following a diagnosis of mTBI. In many cases, symptoms might persist even after your child has received the all-clear from a physician to return to play. 

Constant Therapy is a personalized, science-based digital therapy program that many people of all ages use to optimize their recovery from a concussion, and it can be a great fit for late elementary-aged children and above. The program offers a variety of exercises and activities that are evidence-based to target and treat particular concussion symptoms. For example, we have 8 staying focused tasks dedicated to improving attention span, just as we have tasks specifically designed to help both auditory and visual memory if that’s something your child is struggling with. 

If your child’s doctor has cleared your child for screen time, you can incorporate Constant Therapy as part of your child’s daily routine, and our proprietary NeuroPerformance Engine will adjust the program to your child’s needs to help keep them motivated throughout their recovery. There’s a good chance your child will find that their Constant Therapy is something they look forward to doing every day.

If it sounds like Constant Therapy could be a helpful tool for your child or loved one, visit here to learn more. Our 14-day free trial allows you to ensure that the program is a good fit for your child’s needs, so there is no risk in giving it a try as your child recovers. 

For additional reading, check out the following: 

Black, L., & Zablotsky, B. (2021). Concussions and Brain Injuries in Children: United States, 2020. National Center for Health Statistics (U.S.). https://doi.org/10.15620/cdc:111174

Constant Therapy. (n.d.-a). About us. Constant Therapy. Retrieved July 12, 2022, from https://constanttherapyhealth.com/about-us/

Constant Therapy. (n.d.-b). CT Exercise Archive—Constant Therapy. Retrieved July 12, 2022, from https://constanttherapyhealth.com/ct-exercise/

Constant Therapy. (n.d.-c). CT Exercise Archive—Constant Therapy. Retrieved July 12, 2022, from https://constanttherapyhealth.com/ct-exercise/

Constant Therapy. (n.d.-d). CT Exercise Archive—Constant Therapy. Retrieved July 12, 2022, from https://constanttherapyhealth.com/ct-exercise/

Dr. Edith Bracho-Sanchez. (n.d.). These sports are most likely to send kids to ER with brain injuries | CNN. CNN. Retrieved July 12, 2022, from https://www.cnn.com/2019/03/14/health/traumatic-brain-injury-sports-report/index.html

Heads Up | HEADS UP | CDC Injury Center. (2022, February 25). https://www.cdc.gov/headsup/index.html

Implementing Return to Play: Learning from the Experiences of Early Implementers. (n.d.). 14.

Inc, A. S. I. (n.d.). Concussion Legislation by State/SHAPE America. Retrieved July 12, 2022, from https://www.shapeamerica.org/standards/guidelines/Concussion/state-policy.aspx

Mild TBI and Concussion | Concussion | Traumatic Brain Injury | CDC Injury Center. (2021, May 12). https://www.cdc.gov/traumaticbraininjury/concussion/index.html

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