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What to Do if Your Kid Has a Concussion

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There’s a reason why parents have, in recent years, started insisting that kids wear helmets while riding bikes or scooters, and why many have become more hesitant before signing them up for Pee Wee football. We’ve learned a lot about concussions in recent years and, as parents, we’d really rather our children not experience head injuries.

A concussion can’t always be avoided though, especially in athletic situations and even if they are wearing a helmet during high-risk activities. That’s why it’s important to have a basic understanding of a concussion’s symptoms and treatment plan, should your kid ever find themselves sidelined.

First of all, what is a concussion?

So that we’re all on the same page, it’s helpful to start with a basic definition of a concussion, provided to us by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

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 the head and brain to move rapidly back and forth. This sudden movement can cause the brain to bounce around or twist in the skull, creating chemical changes in the brain and sometimes stretching and damaging brain cells.

Medical providers may describe a concussion as a “mild” brain injury because concussions are usually not life-threatening. Even so, the effects of a concussion can be serious.

In this video, pediatrician and researcher Dr. Julie Gilchrist describes a concussion as, “a change in how the brain functions, so it’s not a structural injury; it’s a functional injury”:

It’s also important to note that concussions can—and most often do—occur even if the injured person doesn’t lose consciousness.

Symptoms to watch for

Kids and teenagers most commonly get concussions from playing sports (particularly football, ice hockey, lacrosse, soccer, and field hockey, according to The Nemours Foundation). But they can also result from a car or bicycle accident, a fight, or a fall.

Symptoms may occur right away, or they may develop hours or even days after the injury happens. Dr. Sherilyn W. Driscoll writes for the Mayo Clinic that symptoms can include:

  • Headache or a feeling of pressure in the head
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Balance problems or dizziness
  • Double or blurry vision
  • Sensitivity to light or noise
  • Feeling sluggish, groggy or daze
  • Difficulty paying attention
  • Memory problems
  • Confusion
  • Slowness in understanding and responding to others
  • Sleeping problems
  • Mood changes
  • Changes in behavior
  • Changes in personality

When do you consult with a doctor?

If a child is injured while playing sports, a coach or trainer may do a few simple tests on the sidelines to check their attention, memory, and speed of thinking before allowing them back in the game. If there is any sign of injury, they will need to see a doctor before resuming play.

But, in general, when it comes to possible concussions, it’s always better to play it safe and consult with their pediatrician or a neurologist. As Amy Paturel writes for the American Academy of Neurology:

The key to determining whether post-concussion brain changes will be life-altering or just temporarily mind-numbing is to ensure that every child who gets hit—whether knocked out or not—receives a comprehensive neurologic evaluation, including an assessment of cognition, balance, and coordination, a physical exam, and a complete medical history, including family history of neurologic conditions such as migraines. Unfortunately, in the vast majority of concussion cases, that isn’t being done, says Dr. [Jeffrey] Kutcher.

Even with a post-concussion evaluation, the impact of injury isn’t always easy to assess. A concussion doesn’t cause bleeding or bruising, and diagnostic imaging tests like computed tomography scans and magnetic resonance imaging almost always come back normal.

Kids with concussions will heal at varying rates, but treatment is likely to include rest from both physical and cognitive activities. Anything that requires too much physical activity or concentration can exacerbate symptoms, especially early on. As symptoms ease, they’ll be able to gradually add those activities back in—but if, as they ease back into them, a symptom such as a headache reemerges, they should take a break.

They will likely need to take a couple of days off from school, but once they return (whether virtually or in person), work with their teacher or school administrators to establish a lighter workload as they ease back in.

Rely on their doctor’s recommendation for whether they are okay to drive and when it’s safe to return to any physical activity that could lead to another head injury—if they return before they are fully healed, they’ll be at a higher risk for incurring another, potentially more damaging concussion.


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Augusta National to host College GameDay during Masters

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ESPN’s College GameDay Built By the Home Depot show has originated from dozens of college campuses across the country since 1993.

On Saturday, Nov. 14, the show will combine two of sport’s greatest traditions — college football and the Masters.

ESPN announced on Tuesday that College GameDay will originate from Augusta National Golf Club, which is hosting the postponed Masters Tournament next month, Nov. 12-15.

Top matchups that day are No. 9 Wisconsin at No. 13 Michigan and No. 2 Alabama at LSU.

“Any time College GameDay travels to a new destination, it’s special, and the opportunity to be on the grounds of Augusta National Golf Club during the Masters is extraordinary,” said Jimmy Pitaro, chairman, ESPN and Sports Content. “As this iconic event coincides with the college football season for the first time, we look forward to getting fans ready for a football Saturday while also showcasing the Masters and the greatest golfers in the world.”

Longtime ESPN hosts Rece Davis, Lee Corso, Kirk Herbstreit, Desmond Howard and others will broadcast from the par-3 course from 9 a.m. to noon ET.

In its 13th year at the Masters, ESPN will once again televise the first and second rounds, Nov. 12-13, from 1 to 5:30 p.m. There will also be expanded coverage on ESPN+, including exclusive practice-round coverage Nov. 10-11.

Golf fans will also be able to watch featured holes coverage on ESPN+ on Nos. 4, 5 and 6 in each of the four rounds of the Masters.

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Follow live: Bayern Munich

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Lakers’ Green: Expect vets to rest if Dec. 22 start

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With the Los Angeles Lakers just coming off having won the NBA championship on Oct. 11, Danny Green doesn’t expect LeBron James and some of his other veteran teammates to be on the floor every night if the new season begins on Dec. 22.

“If we start in December, I think most guys [are like], ‘I’m not going to be there,'” Green told The Ringer NBA Show podcast on Monday. “If I had to guess, because we have a lot of vets on our team, it’s not like we have a lot of young guys or rookies … to have that quick of a restart, I wouldn’t expect see [LeBron] there. I wouldn’t expect to see him probably for the first month of the season. He’ll probably be working out with us … but I just don’t expect guys to want to be there, or show up willingly.

“I think at this moment, and it might be different in two weeks when guys are like, ‘All right, I’m gonna get back in the gym, start working out.’ When we get back in the gym, it’s not right to basketball. It’s, ‘All right, let me start getting into shape’ — lifting a little bit, start running around a little bit. Then I’ll pick up a ball.”

The NBA shared plans for a pre-Christmas Day start and a 72-game regular-season schedule in a call with the league’s board of governors last Friday, and the league plans to move quickly to complete negotiations with the National Basketball Players Association to implement the plan, sources told ESPN.

Other changes include a play-in tournament and the likelihood of no All-Star Game or All-Star Weekend in Indianapolis, sources said. The league is considering a two-week break at the midway point of the season, sources said.

James, who turns 36 on Dec. 30, has not commented on the league’s plans.

Green, 33, wasn’t the only Lakers player to suggest that they would rest by either sitting out games or playing fewer minutes if a late December start date is approved.

“The show will go on, just don’t cry a river when stars sit out TV games … esp Top teams that played a longer full season,” Jared Dudley, who is a 35-year-old free agent after winning a ring with the Lakers, tweeted Monday.

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