If your kid has a concussion, I’m sorry. I know what you’re going through.
My 10-year old suffered a concussion in the spring of 2016. If you’re like me, you have a lot of questions swirling around in your mind. I had even more when he suffered a second concussion during the first week of this school year! Playing kickball of all things.
Because I had so many questions surrounding concussions and kids in sports, I called my friend Carrie Boan. Carrie is a pediactric physical therapist who specilizes in brain health and youth sports injury prevention. I asked Carrie a lot of the same questions that you may have as well. Since I know that I’m not the only sports parent going through something like this, I decided to record our conversation.
I’m glad I did, because Carrie gives some awesome answers that I believe will help you and your child.
Click here or the banner below to listen. Feel free to contact Carrie if you have more questions of your own about concussions and youth sports. She’s @Carrie_Boan on Twitter.
I’ll be honest. Concussions scare the heck out of me. They’re so scary because they’re mysterious. They’re not a black and white injury like a broken bone or muscle tear.
You can’t see a concussion and how bad it is on an x-ray. There’s no grading scale of a concussion. And the part that’s the most scary is that we’re talking about a brain injury! Bones, ligaments, tendons, muscles… they can be repaired without long term consequences. But the brain is a whole different story.
I had so many questions…
When can my child return to playing sports after a concussion?
Is a kid more susceptible to concussions after having one?
What are the long term effects from concussions for kids?
How many concussions is too many for a kid to have?
My son Brayden got his first concussion playing in an ice hockey tournament in Chicago. It happened during a Saturday morning game. But we didn’t know about it until around 4:00 A.M. Monday morning and after he played in two more games!
Let me explain.
He got the concussion on a play that happens all the time. It wasn’t a violent collision. They didn’t stop play. The coaches didn’t have to come out onto the ice to see if he was OK.
Brayden was battling for a loose puck around center ice, near the blue line in front of his team’s bench. There were two other players from the other team battling against him. His skates got caught up on another stick or skates and he fell awkwardly on his right side with his arms down, gripping his stick. He appeared to land mainly on his upper arm near his shoulder.
He got up and skated, hunched over, directly to his bench. I watched and his coach came over to talk to him for a few seconds while he sat on the bench. After about 20 seconds, he popped up and stood next to his teammates watching the play.
I just figured he had the wind knocked out of him since he fell in an awkward position.
What I didn’t realize is that he hit his head and helmet pretty hard on the ice.
He didn’t miss his next shift though.
He didn’t say anything about the fall after the game. And then he played in another game later in the day on Saturday. And he played well.
Then he played in another game early on Sunday morning. Again, played a great game on D and even scored a goal. After his Sunday morning game, our family went to downtown Chicago, had lunch and walked around for the rest of the day before driving back home to St. Louis.
Everything was fine.
Then, around 4:00 in the morning on Monday, Brayden woke me up and said that his stomach hurt. He felt like he was going to throw up and his head hurt.
I thought he may have caught a stomach bug on our trip or something. (Again, I didn’t realize that he hit his head on that play.)
We held him home from school that day. When Brayden was still complaining of a headache on Monday night, my wife asked me if I thought it was from when he hit his head on the ice.
I wasn’t sure what she was talking about. I didn’t recall him hitting his head in the game. Then she reminded me of his awkward fall near center ice.
I asked Bray about that fall and asked if he hit his head. He said that he hit his head really hard on that play.
The next morning, he still had a bad headache. We held him out of school again and made an appointment with his doctor.
The doctor confirmed our fear. Brayden had a concussion.
He had to be shut down from any physical activity until the headache subsided.
I informed Brayden’s hockey coach that we were shutting him down for the rest of the spring. His team was playing in another tournament in a few weeks, but Brayden wasn’t going to be a part of it.
I also told his baseball and soccer coaches that we were shutting him down for a few weeks. I explained to both coaches that we were being extra cautious and weren’t going to rush him back. They were all very understanding.
Brayden also had to sit out of gym class, couldn’t run or play during recess or at home with his neighborhood buddies.
I knew he was feeling pretty bad because that kid will do anything to get outside and play with his friends. But while he had headaches, he didn’t even want to go outside.
More than a month went by before Brayden was without a headache.
It felt like an eternity.
When the headaches finally subsided, Brayden was able to begin trying some physical activity. He had to start slowly and then gauge how he felt afterwards.
If he didn’t get a headache or feel sick within 24 hours of the activity, then he could take it up a notch the next day. Over the next couple of weeks, Brayden was able to ramp up his activity until he was back to playing like normal in the neighborhood and gym class.
He returned to playing sports soon after.
Everything was going great until late in August of this year. Brayden and another kid collided while playing kickball in gym class. The crown of the other kid’s head hit Brayden near the temple of his head.
He suffered a second concussion! A second concussion in less than six months!
By late August, his regular hockey season was in full swing. He had to be shut down for a little more than a month this time. Returned to playing games on October 1st.
His headaches didn’t last nearly as long with this second concussion. He also didn’t act as down in the dumps as he did with his first one. That leads me to believe that his second one wasn’t as bad. But, it’s like I said, we aren’t certain of that because there’s no way to know for sure.
It’s frustrating and scary.
If your child recently suffered a concussion, I hope this helps you go through the process that’s filled with question marks.
Thanks for reading (and listening).
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