Fletcher Allen, a Vermont university hospital and medical center, serves all of
Vermont and the northern New York region. Located in Burlington, Fletcher Allen is a regional, academic healthcare center and teaching hospital in alliance with the University of Vermont.
A Helpful Heads Up about
Parents of children who play contact sports have been heading me off at
the pass to ask me if they need to worry after their child recovers from a
concussion. Well, let me see if I can give
everyone a heads up on the subject of concussions.
A concussion is a temporary loss of brain function due to a direct
injury to the head and a shifting of the brain contents inside the skull. It is
important to know that your child can experience a mild concussion and not lose
Symptoms which may occur seconds to minutes to hours to weeks after the
injury and can include feeling dizzy or dazed, having trouble remembering
things, a decline in school performance, nausea, vomiting, headache, blurred
vision, feeling overly tired, or trouble with coordination and balance.
If your child demonstrates any of these signs on the basketball court,
the slopes or the hockey rink at this time of year, it is important to get your
child out of the game and seek medical attention. Your child’s health care provider may even
request a CT scan or brain MRI imaging to make sure the brain has not been
Treatment for a concussion includes physical and mental rest, which
means not going to school and while home recovering, brain rest means no TV,
video games, or use of a computer until symptom free. Physical rest means no
sports or other physical activity so the brain can truly heal.
So when can a child return to school or play a sport? New guidelines
suggest that someone who has had a concussion go through a set of steps for a
gradual return to play and to the classroom. Your child’s health care provider
will recommend a step-wise plan for this return based on how soon and for how
long your child can be symptom-free. It is common for this transition to a
child’s normal school and sports schedule to take several weeks.
Concussion prevention is possible. The use of appropriate headgear and safety equipment when playing a sport as well as knowing the proper rules and techniques to play the game can reduce the risk of concussion by 85 percent.
Hopefully tips like this will allow you and your child to use your head before your child rushes back into the classroom or to practice after experiencing any signs of a concussion.
Lewis First, M.D., is chief of Pediatrics at Vermont Children's Hospital at Fletcher Allen Health Care and chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Vermont College of Medicine. You can also catch "First with Kids" weekly on WOKO 98.9FM and WPTZ Channel 5, or visit the First with Kids video archives at www.FletcherAllen.org/firstwithkids