Concussion 101

Over the last decade concussions in professional sport have topped the headlines. With each news story comes greater public awareness about athletes and risks of brain injury.

But concussions – a common form of brain injury caused by a direct or indirect hit to the head or body causing a change in brain function – can occur when participating in any kind of activity at any level.

In Canada, almost 40 percent of children and youth who visit an emergency department for a sports-related head injury are diagnosed with concussions, while a further 24 percent with possible concussions. Research has shown that children tend to be more sensitive to the effects of a concussion and may need a longer period of rest and recovery before returning to learning and playing.

The symptoms are wide-ranging and sometimes long lasting. According to the 2016 5P Study: Predicting and Preventing Post-concussive Problems in Pediatrics led by Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) and nine pediatric emergency departments across Canada, one-third of over 3,000 children evaluated in the first 48-hours after head injury experienced ongoing symptoms beyond one month.

When you suspect your child may have a concussion, the first step is to remove your child from play and seek medical advice from a health care profession knowledgeable about concussions.

To learn more about concussions and kids, we’ve compiled these helpful online resources to help recognize, care for, and prevent them, plus hear personal stories from coaches, parents, and kids.

Parachute Canada Concussion Ed app

In 2016, Parachute Canada, a national charitable organization dedicated to preventing injury and saving lives, launched a free mobile app to help youth, parents, coaches, and educators learn how to recognize and care for concussions. The app can track the signs and symptoms of a concussion.

Hockey Canada Concussion Awareness app

The Hockey Canada Concussion Awareness app  provides parents, coaches, trainers, players, and administrators with information on prevention, recognition, and response to concussion injury, as well as responsible return-to-play protocol. For more sport-specific info, this ThinkSmart Hockey Program video  offers ways to support injury prevention on the ice.

Coaching Association of Canada Quiz

A quiz by the Coaching Association of Canada and infographics on how a concussion occurs educate coaches, parents, and athletes on the signs, symptoms and what to do.

Concussion 101 Whiteboard Video by Dr. Mike Evans

Reframe Health Lab with Canadian Dr. Mike Evans helps explain concussions.

Bruising Your Brain Public Talk by Ontario Brain Institute

A panel discussion on what science and sport say about concussions with Carolyn Emery of the University of Calgary and Roger Zemek of CHEO who lend their scientific expertise to the personal experience of Eric Lindros, who was forced to retire from professional hockey because of concussions.

Playsafe Concussion Policy Guide

The Playsafe Initiative offers this free resource guide for recreation and sport leaders and organizations to help develop concussion policies.

Ontario Brain Injury Association 

Many provincial organizations, such as the Ontario Brain Injury Association, offers tools and support. Here is a free online booklet on Concussions in Children and Youth.

Information presented in this article is not to be used or relied on for any diagnostic or treatment purposes. Please consult your health care provider before making any health care decisions or for guidance about a specific medical condition.

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