If you have a child/teen with a TBI, you have a child/teen that LOOKS completely normal. But they act anything but normal. Because this injury is invisible in most cases, your child will be judged extra harshly not only by other parents and peers, but by HEALTH CARE PROFESSIONALS that are not familiar with all the new information and break throughs on this condition.
Imagine having a teen that is more susceptible to depression and acting out due to a brain injury. Now imagine needing to medicate the child to work with the depression that is CAUSED by the injury -- not by having mental issues. Now imagine that many of these drugs will not work on a person with a TBI because of the changes in the brain. Now try to get a doctor to take you seriously when they work with mental teens on a daily basis. Your child looks just like another kid with mental issues. Yet, that is not what you have. Now imagine having to run through drug after drug to find the one that will work -- and those drugs causing serious suicidal issues. Now try again to get the doctor to believe your child is reacting to the meds....not acting out because she has mental issues.
So, educate yourself on what to watch for. From the CDC:
AWARENESS - What is a concussion?
According to the CDC, a concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury—or TBI—caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or by a hit to the body that causes your head and brain to move rapidly back and forth. This sudden movement can literally cause the brain to bounce around or twist in the skull, stretching and damaging the brain cells and creating chemical changes in the brain. (Curious to see what a concussion looks like? Check out a video on CDC’s homepage at: www.cdc.gov/Concussion.) What you might not know is that these chemical changes make the brain more vulnerable to further injury. During this window of vulnerability the brain is more sensitive to any increased stress or injury, until it fully recovers.
Most people with a concussion will recover quickly and fully. But for some people, signs and symptoms of concussion can last for days, weeks, or longer. It’s important to be familiar with concussion signs and symptoms so you can respond appropriately.
It’s important for parents, athletes, and coaches to know about concussion. Sometimes athletes, parents, and coaches believe that it shows strength and courage to play when you have a concussion. Not only is the encouragement to “shake it off” wrong, it can put a young athlete at risk for serious injury. It is important to let athletes know that when it comes to concussion, toughing it out, means sitting it out. An athlete may feel frustrated, sad, or even angry about having to sit out. Parents and coaches should talk to them about it and be honest about the risks of getting put back in play too soon. It is also important to explain how taking time to rest will actually help them get back to play more quickly and as the days go by they should expect to feel better.
The CDC's Heads Up program provides a free online training program on the awareness, signs and symptoms of concussions for parents, coaches and anyone helping with sports programs.
Through CDC’s Heads Up concussion education program, a similar poster educating young athletes about concussion in all sports is also available, at no cost, to display in team locker rooms, gymnasiums, and schools nationwide. This poster lets athletes know that all concussions are serious and emphasizes the importance of reporting their injury. It also provides athletes with a list of concussion signs, symptoms and steps they should take if they think they have a concussion. It is the result of a joint effort between the NFL, CDC, and NFL Players Association, as well as 16 National Governing Bodies for Sport. Contact us for a poster about concussion signs for your school's locker room.
The NFL worked with the CDC to create educational posters and fact sheets on concussion that are now hung in every NFL professional team locker room. To learn how the NFL is working to prevent and treat concussions at the professional and youth level, visit the NFL Health and Safety site. There you can also find a map that includes information about your state’s laws or policies on concussion in sports.
To learn more about concussion and to order CDC’s Heads Up educational materials at no cost, including materials for parents, athletes, coaches, and health care and school professionals, visit: www.cdc.gov/Concussion.
Action Steps for Protecting Your Athlete:
What should you do if you think your teen has a concussion?
You should contact your health care professional and keep your athlete out of play. It is important for parents to watch for concussion signs and symptoms, as well as the danger signs if their child experiences a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or body. Signs and symptoms of concussion can show up right after an injury or may not appear or be noticed until hours or days after the injury. It is important to watch for changes in how your child or teen is acting or feeling, if symptoms are getting worse, or if s/he just “doesn’t feel right.”
CDC developed the following 4-step Heads Up Action Plan to help you protect your child or teen if you suspect they have a concussion:
- Keep your teen out of play. If your teen has a concussion, her/his brain needs time to heal. Don’t let your teen return to play the day of the brain injury and until a health care professional, experienced in evaluating for concussion, says your teen is symptom-free and it’s OK to return to play. A repeat concussion that occurs before the brain recovers from the first—usually within a short period of time (hours, days, or weeks)—can slow recovery or increase the likelihood of having long-term problems. In rare cases, repeat concussions can result in edema (brain swelling), permanent brain damage, and even death.
- Seek medical attention right away. A health care professional experienced in evaluating for concussion will be able to decide how serious the concussion is and when it is safe for your teen to return to sports.
- Teach your teen that it’s not smart to play with a concussion. Rest is key after a concussion. Sometimes athletes wrongly believe that it shows strength and courage to play injured. Discourage others from pressuring injured athletes to play. Don’t let your teen convince you that s/he’s “just fine.”
- Tell all of your teen’s coaches and the student’s school nurse about ANY concussion. Coaches, school nurses, and other school staff should know if your teen has ever had a concussion. Your teen may need to limit activities while s/he is recovering from a concussion. Things such as studying, driving, working on a computer, playing video games, or exercising may cause concussion symptoms to reappear or get worse. Talk to your health care professional, as well as your teen’s coaches, school nurse, and teachers. If needed, they can help adjust your teen’s school activities during her/his recovery.