by Dr. Jesus Pina-Garza, Pediatric Neurologist and Director of Pediatric Epilepsy at The Children’s Hospital at TriStar Centennial

While children who are physically active certainly enjoy many health benefits, they are also at greater risk for injury, including concussions.

Concussions can be prominent in all sports — even in “non-contact” sports, such as a triathlon.

The best approach to a concussion is prevention. Regardless of the sport or activity, parents and children can take steps to help prevent concussions by taking the following steps:

  • Ensure children are wearing all required safety equipment (helmets for sports such as baseball and football and bicycle helmets for bike riding);
  • Confirm that all safety equipment fits properly and is checked and maintained regularly. League-issued equipment can often be cracked or have other defects;
  • Ensure that shoes fit properly and that shoestrings are tied at all times to avoid accidental falls;
  • Swimmers should be aware of their location in the pool at all times. Bumping into the wall could cause a head injury.

Regardless of the precautions parents and children take to avoid head injuries, a concussion can still occur. A substantial impact to the head or upper body area can cause a concussion. If a concussion is suspected, the athlete should stop participating immediately and seek medical attention. Symptoms can include:

  • Headache
  • Amnesia surrounding the traumatic event
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Sensitivity to light and noise

It is best to seek medical attention if you think your child has sustained a head injury. There are also simple steps to help manage symptoms, such as restricting physical activity and minimizing mental stress. Symptoms should be constantly monitored based on the severity and your medical team recommendations.

Dr. Jesus Pina-Garza is a pediatric neurologist and director of pediatric epilepsy at The Children’s Hospital at TriStar Centennial in Nashville, TN.