Concussions in young athletes are a hot topic as the fall sports season begins again. Concussion rates are rising sharply among U.S. kids and teens, researchers report, and concussion diagnoses more than doubled between 2007 and 2014. According to the CDC, more than 248,000 U.S. children and teens land in the emergency room each year because of a concussion sustained in sports or recreational activities, such as bicycling, football, basketball, soccer and from playground injuries.
We hosted a live chat on Tuesday, August 9th with Dr. Jeffrey Webb, pediatric sports medicine physician at Emory Sports Medicine Center to address this important topic. Thanks to such a great turnout, we were able to answer quite a few questions that were submitted both prior to and during the chat. Below are some highlights from the live chat. View the full chat transcript here.
Question:What are the treatments for a concussion?
Dr. Webb: The most important treatment initially is rest and avoidance of anything that worsens symptoms or contact to the brain. Healthy habits such as eating right and drinking a lot of fluids also seem to be helpful. Sometimes physical therapy and vestibular therapy can help speed up recovery.
Question: Is imaging needed to confirm a concussion?
Dr. Webb: No, imaging is not needed to confirm a concussion. A CT scan and/or MRI does not show a concussion. It is more of a functional disturbance than structural problem. An athlete only needs these scans if there is concern for a more serious injury, like a skull fracture or brain bleed.
Question: It’s really good to hear you say that plenty of sleep will help in the recovery process. I’ve heard in the past that when a child receive an impact, that we may suspect is a concussion, that the 1st thing to do is to not allow them to fall asleep, if they feel the certain urge to. Is the “urge to fall asleep” a common side affect of a concussion, and if so, should we prevent a player from doing so?
Dr. Webb: This is something that has changed in the last 10- 20 years with management of concussions. We used to tell parents to wake their child up frequently the night of a concussion. We now know that sleep is important for recovery, and it is important to let them sleep. The only exception would be if someone had a skull fracture or bleed in the brain, in which case they would probably be admitted to the hospital and have much more serious symptoms than a standard concussion.
Thanks again to everyone who joined us for this live chat. You can find the full chat transcript here and learn more about concussions by clicking below.