Heads Up! Simple Steps to Prevent Concussions

Spring and summer weather in Michigan is perfect for sending the kids outside to play — flying kites, climbing trees and endless hours riding bikes.

  Bicycle helmets can prevent concussions.

But it’s nearly impossible to be too careful when it comes to preventing your child from suffering a head injury. So how do you know when a headache caused by a crash on a bike or fall from a tree requires medical attention?

“Headaches, confusion, blurred vision and even loss of consciousness can all occur and may be the result of a trauma to the head,” says Daniel Michael, M.D., director of Neurotrauma and Critical Care at Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak. “Symptoms like these will usually subside in time, but it is important to seek medical attention right away.”

The most common type of traumatic brain injury is a concussion, which is caused by a blow or bump to the head. Often, concussions seen in children are caused by sports injuries and bicycle accidents.

It is important to stay on top of the signs and symptoms your child exhibits after experiencing a blow to the head. In addition to the symptoms Dr. Michael listed, nausea, balance or memory problems and light sensitivity also can be attributed to a concussion.

For most people, concussion symptoms resolve without specific treatment. Although there is no general treatment plan for concussion, doctors usually prescribe rest and very limited physical activity.

“The best way to deal with concussions is to stop them from ever happening,” says Dr. Michael.

“Injuries like these are very avoidable and studies have shown that repeated concussions can cause extensive and even permanent brain damage. Concussions are brain injuries, and there is no such thing as a ‘safe amount’ of brain injury.”

To prevent concussions, Dr. Michael offers the following tips:

  • Always wear a seatbelt when traveling in the car.
  • When playing sports or bicycling, use appropriate helmets, mouth guards and padding.
  • Follow all safety rules for a sport.
  • Wear proper footwear. Slips and falls that result in hitting your head can easily be prevented.

However, if a concussion is unavoidable in a child, Dr. Michael says it is important to keep the child out of play, avoid other physical activities and seek prompt medical attention. “Concussions take time to heal,” he says. “There is plenty more time to play, and summer is just getting started.”

For more information on Beaumont’s Neuroscience Center of Excellence go to http://neurosciences.beaumont.edu/about.

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