sports neurology at MUSC

sports neurology

Sports Concussion Information for Parents

As a parent, we know that your child’s health is your first priority. You want your child to return to competition but you also want to ensure that they are safe and healthy. That being the case, we wanted to provide you with some information about the short- and long-term consequences of concussion.

Frequently asked questions by parents whose child has sustained a sports-related concussion:

Q: My son sustained a concussion 3-1/2 weeks ago and is still complaining of daily headaches and fatigue. Is this normal?

A: Most adult patients (80-90%) experience resolution of their concussion symptoms within about 7-10 days; however, there is some evidence to suggest that the recovery time frame may be longer in children and adolescents. Some patients--children, adolescents, and adults--have more persistent symptoms, lasting weeks to month.

Q: My child’s doctor told me that she has post-concussive syndrome. What is this?
A: Post-concussive syndrome refers to a constellation of physical and psychological symptoms that can be seen in the aftermath of a concussive head injury. Commonly reported symptoms include headache that worsens with exertion, dizziness, fatigue, insomnia, feeling slowed down, difficulty concentrating, difficulty remembering, sadness, nervousness, and irritability. It is unclear why, with the same type of injury, some patients develop these symptoms while others do not.

Q: Since sustaining a concussion, my child has been falling asleep in class and has been taking far longer than usual to complete her homework. Is she going to need extra help in school?

A: Many children do require some modifications to their educational curriculum as they recover from a head injury. Initially, they may benefit from a shortened day, shortened classes, or rest breaks. Other modifications include allowing extra time for assignments, postponing tests, and decreasing the homework load. Children and adolescents who are having a more protracted recovery may benefit from formal neuropsychological testing, though deciding when to test can be a challenge, as the recovering brain acts as a “moving target.” When more extensive educational modifications are needed, the parent or physician may need to request a meeting of the 504 or School Management Team. As the child recovers, the educational supports can be gradually withdrawn.

Q: Are there long-term health consequences associated with repeated sports concussions?

A: Epidemiological studies have suggested an association between repeated sports concussions and late life cognitive impairment, but the real answer to this question remains unclear.

Q: My child has had three concussions. How many is too many?

A: Great question but the answer remains unclear. Many physicians feel that it is time to permanently retire from contact sports when:

  • The child or teen has sustained a low-threshold concussions (i.e. experiencing concussion symptoms after a mild impact)
  • The child or teen has sustained multiple concussions and has had increasingly severe and/or increasingly prolonged symptoms after each episode
  • The child or teen is exhibiting changes from their baseline between concussive injuries

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