*This post was originally published 7-30-14, updated 2-19-17.
Every parent knows that they can’t prevent every bump to their child’s head.
And we know a bump to the head and a “brain injury” are not necessarily the same thing.
A superficial wound or bump to the head can be no fun for a child, but a brain injury is much more serious.
That’s why kids wear bike and ski helmets now.
That’s why there are rules for children playing sports.
That’s why playgrounds aren’t built on concrete anymore.
I read op-ed by a neurosurgeon who specializes in concussion therapy and spine surgery, and one simple point really stood out.*
A concussion is NOT a head injury: it is a brain injury.
We are fairly casual about concussions, compared to more obviously severe brain injuries.
After all, most are resolved within a couple of weeks, without obvious consequences.
But a concussion changes how the brain works. Younger people, teens especially, can have lasting cognitive effects like short-term memory loss or an inability to focus.
And every concussion makes a kid more vulnerable to another concussion.
So treat the concussion like a brain injury, not like a mere bump to the head.
Brain injury or not?
Know the signs and symptoms of a concussion. This Concussion Awareness Training Tool is one of the best resources I’ve seen.
Really, it boils down to this: You know your kid.
If you think something is “off”, take your child to the pediatrician or a qualified medical provider.
“Following a head injury, if the little voice inside you is telling you to go to the emergency room, listen to that voice.”
Photo: Concussion Study University of Fraser Valley
*Original op-ed link is no longer available; see the cited study here.