As our kids get back to school, many of them will be playing a sport this season, which increases their risk of a concussion. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently published new guidelines for managing concussions in children that every parent should know.

Most guidelines previously published, focused mainly on adults. This is the first time we have specific concussion guidelines for kids from the CDC. The new report focuses on 19 recommendations that cover diagnosis and treatment, including suggestions for when children should return to school after a concussion, also known as a mild traumatic brain injury or mTBI.

One of the major changes is the amount of rest advised after a concussion. For years, it was recommended that concussion treatment should include longer periods of rest. New research is showing that it could be more beneficial to rest for no more than a few days and then gradually return to non-sports activity.

Concussions are now recognized as a major public health problem, with nearly 1 million kids going to emergency departments annually. As parents, we need to be aware of the following symptoms:

  • Physical symptoms - headaches, nausea, fatigue,  balance problems, visual problems, sensitivity to light or noise, numbness and tingling, vomiting, dizziness
  • Mental symptoms - feeling mentally foggy, having problems concentrating or remembering, feeling slowed down
  • Emotional symptoms - irritability, sadness, nervousness, or simply feeling more emotional
  • Symptoms that affect sleep - drowsiness, sleeping more or less than usual, or having trouble falling asleep

If your child experiences any of these, it is important to seek medical treatment immediately. We also need to be aware that mTBI can be caused by any trauma or sudden jolt of the head.  There does not necessarily have to be a direct impact.

In 70 to 80 percent of cases, concussion symptoms in kids go away within one to three months, however, some children experience long-term symptoms which can even affect them into adulthood. 

Click here to see the new CDC guidelines for mTBI in children, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Pediatrics.

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