As school begins again, it is time to think about a topic that affects millions of people each year: traumatic brain injuries, particularly those related to sporting activities. Each year in the United States, the Centers for Disease Control estimate that as many as 3.8 million people will be affected by a TBI, with about 10 percent of those coming from sports and recreational activities. For children, at least 21 percent of all traumatic brain injuries are sports-related.
Sports-related TBIs can range from mild concussions to severe and even life-threatening trauma. Recognizing the signs of a TBI and knowing the steps to take if you suspect one can not only save a child’s life but can also lessen the long-term impact of the injury.
What Are the Symptoms of a Traumatic Brain Injury?
School sports often involve contact, and some of that contact can result in blows to the head. Whenever a child has suffered an injury to the head or neck, it is very important to look out for the following symptoms:
- One of the first and most prominent symptoms of a TBI is pain, often in the form of a constant or recurring headache. While a slight headache is normal after a blow to the head, one that lasts longer than a few hours should definitely be considered something to talk to your doctor about.
- Balance and coordination problems. When a child sustains a head injury, one of the easiest symptoms to spot is a problem with balance or coordination. If your child is tripping and falling frequently or seems to have trouble holding things, it is important for him or her to see a doctor immediately.
- Sensory issues. One of the less noticeable symptoms of a TBI may be sensory changes. Your child may complain about changes in hearing, sight or even taste. He or she may also experience dizziness or sensitivity to lights or loud noises. These can all be signs of a traumatic brain injury and should be examined by your physician.
- Cognitive problems. Children who have suffered TBIs may also experience cognitive issues, especially in the long term. Sometimes these symptoms do not appear for days or weeks after the injury. They can include confusion, shortened attention, distraction, disorientation, and agitation. In rare cases, children may become more or less aggressive than normal and experience personality changes. Be sure to tell your doctor if you notice any of these signs.
- Speech issues. If you notice your child having difficulty finding words or slurring his or her speech, be sure to speak to your doctor. This can also be a sign that a TBI has affected the child’s ability to process language.
By keeping a close eye on your child after a sports injury, you can spot signs that can help your doctor treat your child successfully for a TBI and avoid long-term issues related to brain trauma.
At Barber & Associates, we have spent many years helping TBI victims and their families. Give us a call today to learn more!