Are Concussions a Serious Problem in Youth Sports?
Nate Geller was 10 when he suffered a concussion playing lacrosse with other youths on a field in Seattle.
“Nate went down, he got dizzy, stood up. He got dizzy and fell down again,” Nate's mom Eileen Geller told Dennis Woltering of Eyewitness News in Harvey, La. It wasn't until after the game that Eileen realized something might be seriously wrong with her son. When Nate awoke the next day he had a severe headache, couldn't walk and he couldn't focus his eyes on anything for more than a few seconds. It was clear to Eileen that Nate's brain wasn't working like it should.
After a trip to the pediatrician, the Gellers learned Nate was suffering from a concussion, an injury causing widespread concern of late as parents and physicians are discovering the potential long-term side-effects of what was once thought to be just a minor injury.
What makes concussions so dangerous for kids?
A concussion is traumatic brain injury (TBI) and can result in serious side-effects, even mild concussions can cause lasting harm. In March we reported on a new study showing that children can suffer effects from mild TBI as long as a year after the original injury.
Did you know that most people who suffer concussions don't lose consciousness? A hard fall or blow to the head may cause a concussion without the patient realizing it. Any child or adult who is suffering concussion symptoms should see a doctor immediately for a thorough diagnosis.
While most of the side-effects of a concussion subside within a few days or weeks, swelling in the brain can damage motor skills and cognitive abilities long after the injury. A few weeks ago, we wrote about inquiries into the long-term effects of repeated concussions in NFL players and the conversation has quickly moved to how to keep kids safe from the same dangers.
How can we prevent youth TBI?
As parents and health-care providers we know that it's impossible to shroud our kids in bubble-wrap and make them wear motorcycle helmets whenever they leave the house (though we've all probably wanted to before). The fact is, there's just no way to guarantee a child won't ever suffer a concussion but the risks can be dramatically reduced by wearing proper head gear when bicycling, skate-boarding or playing contact sports like football or lacrosse. Some parents choose to keep their kids out of sports with higher risks of injury though “safer” sports like baseball, basketball and soccer still pose some chance of mild TBI.
So it's not a perfect world. What can you do after a concussion?
First off, it's important to know when you should take your child to the doctor. Ideally, your family doctor should examine your child whenever there is a hard blow the head, and you should call your doctor right away if your child experiences:
- severe headaches that won't go away
- difficulty waking up
- slurred speech
- blurring vision or seeing stars
- difficulty with balance or coordination
Your doctor will check for signs of a concussion and give you specific directions for treatment. One of the most important instructions is to keep your child from activities that may result in a second concussion before the first has healed.
Coaches, parents and educators come together for 'no contact'
Pop Warner Football, the largest organizer of youth football in the U.S. Has changed the rules of it's summer practice camps based on a study which showed that the vast majority of youth head impacts occur during practice, not the actual game.
Some people are skeptical about the change, fearing it will mean kids are missing out on an essential part of the sports experience, but others say it's best to err on the side of caution.
Nate Geller receives HBOT for head trauma
But even for kids like Nate Geller who have already suffered serious consequences, it's not too late. Nate's mom Eileen refused to give up hope that her son could recover from his injury and her search for effective alternative TBI treatments led her to Dr. Paul Harch and his hyperbaric oxygen treatment center. We've written about Dr. Harch and his hard work spreading the word about HBOT's effectiveness and searching out new conditions which can be treated with hyperbaric oxygen.
Eileen and Nate went to see Dr. Harch in Louisiana and after just 20 days Nate was walking in a straight line and “felt great.” Now, after over 80 sessions, Nate's symptoms are beginning to vanish and we've been honored to welcome Eileen and Nate to Washington Hyperbaric Therapy Center for the remainder of his treatment.
Is your child suffering from the side-effects of concussion? HBOT may be the solution. Contact us to schedule an appointment.