Tag Archives: #ConcussionMonday

Concussion Monday: What I did right, what I did wrong when my son fell off the monkey bars

Sam4
Six-year-old Sammy before learning about the dangers of the monkey bars. (Unfortunately, this is still how he drinks out of most water fountains.)

Over the last five Mondays, we have posted concussion material geared toward athletes and anatomy as part of our participation in #ConcussionMonday on social media. This post is geared to parents. Specifically, how should parents and caregivers respond when they suspect concussion in children?

I’ll be the guinea pig for this post.

I recently recounted the story of my son’s concussion to Dr. Elizabeth Clark, a child and adult neurologist with Wyoming Medical Center and Wyoming Neurologic Associates. I then asked her what I did right and what I did wrong. Maybe you can learn from my mistakes.

The setup

My husband and I were at a much-deserved dinner with friends. (At least we thought it was much deserved.)  Sammy, then 6 years old, was at a neighbor’s house who happened to live next to a city park.

Two or three bites into dinner, our phones started ringing. Sammy had been crossing the monkey bars when he missed the last bar, our neighbor told us. Sammy fell and smacked his forehead against the top rung of the ladder leading onto the apparatus.

First off, Dr. Clark, what’s the word on monkey bars? Are they safe for young children, with or without supervision?

Dr. Clark: The American Academy of Pediatrics has no official opinion whether children should be allowed on the monkey bars and we tend to make our recommendations using the official guidelines.

So, basically, I ask parents to use their best judgments. If the child is small in comparison to the height of the monkey bars, it’s probably best for the child not to be on them. It is helpful to have a caregiver with them at all times, but even that won’t prevent all accidents.

To dial or not to dial

On the phone, my neighbor told me that Sammy was groggy and talking with slurred, confused speech. I told the neighbor we were on our way, and we left our forks on our plates. It took us between 10 to 15 minutes to drive across town.

So, was leaving dinner the right call, or should we have asked the babysitter to call 911 and planned to meet Sammy at the emergency room?

Dr. Clark: Anytime a child has a knock to the head and neurological symptoms such as slurred speech, grogginess, vomiting, confusion, it is best that the child be transported to the emergency room via ambulance. That way they can be evaluated and monitored and the ER doctors can tell parents what to look for.

Take two aspirin and call in the morning!

Looking back, I think I didn’t ask the sitter to call an ambulance because I figured there’s not a lot to be done for a concussion. I figured I’d take Sammy home, give him some Tylenol and an ice pack, and monitor him through the night.

But by the time we reached Sammy, he had vomited and was still lethargic. My husband and I decided to drive him to Wyoming Medical Center ourselves. We figured it would take less time than calling an ambulance.

Dr. Clark, can parents monitor children at home if they suspect concussion, or did we make the right call to drive Sammy to the ER?

Dr. Clark: Some parents who are in the medical profession who know what they are looking for may feel more comfortable keeping their child at home, however these people are few and far between. That’s why we say, “Go to the ER.”

The most serious outcome of concussion is bleeding in the head, but that is rare. Still, it’s deadly and should be checked by a professional. So taking Sammy to ER was appropriate.

However, ambulances are almost always quicker in emergency situations than driving a patient to the ER yourself.

The sheepish conclusion

Sammy
Sammy, 11, is now a healthy, sometimes happy, middle schooler. Lest you think his fashion sense is an unforeseen side effect of his bump on the head, he was clipping ties to his t-shirts long before falling from the monkey bars.

Sammy did indeed have a concussion. He repeatedly threw up the liquid ER staff needed him to keep down for his CT scan. When he did finally manage, doctors informed us he wasn’t bleeding. He’s now 11 and is a healthy, sometimes happy pre-teenager.  (God help me.)

All that’s left from his concussion experience is a reminder to stay within catching distance when small children are swinging like monkeys from bars, and a funny family story that involves, strangely enough, farm animals.

As Sammy lay in the ER bed – staring wide-eyed at the ceiling, both arms splayed outward as nurses hooked up IVs and took his vitals – a doctor asked me the standard questions about his medical history: Ever have this disease or that? Adverse reactions to any medication? Was he allergic to anything?

No, no and no.

Just then, Sammy sat straight up in his hospital bed: Mom! What did you just say?

I said you aren’t allergic to anything.

But I am allergic to something, Mom. I’m allergic to sheep.

And with that, Sammy fell instantly flat on his back.

The doctor looked at me with a raised eyebrow. I shook my head. Sammy’s only exposure to sheep had been at a petting zoo a few years earlier. The sheep sucked pellets from Sammy’s tiny hands and Sammy sucked sheep slobber from the same hands seconds later. He certainly wasn’t allergic to sheep that day. My husband and I still figure it was the concussion talking.

#ConcussionMonday is an initiative started by Barrow Neurological Institute at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center to raise awareness about concussion and traumatic brain injury on social media. Hospitals and medical centers across the country use #ConcussionMonday on Twitter to link to education and reminders about concussion prevention.  Read our past posts below:

Week 5: What athletes should know

Week 4: How does a concussion happen?

Week 3: What parents should know 

Week 2: Neurologist Dr. David Wheeler talks symptoms and treatments

Week 1: A high school coach’s guide to recognizing concussions

Kristy verticleKristy Bleizeffer is a writer and public relations rep for Wyoming Medical Center and editor of The Pulse. Previously, she worked at Wyoming newspapers for 12 years, most recently as features editor of the Casper Star-Tribune. She enjoys working in her garden until July when she falls woefully behind and vows to do better next year. She is mother to a son and step-son. Tell her your health stories by emailing kbleizeffer@wyomingmedicalcenter.org or calling (307) 577-2556.

Concussion Monday: What athletes should know

For our fifth installment in #ConcussionMonday, Dr. David Wheeler, a neurologist with Wyoming Medical Center and Wyoming Neurologic Associates, talks about the dangers of concussion in football and other sports. It’s not just the hard, helmet-smacking hits that players need to worry about. Any sudden deceleration of the head can cause the brain to slosh around inside the skull. This can cause minor bruising that can have lasting effects. Watch the video to learn about multiple traumatic brain injury (MTBI) and other precautions of which young athletes should be aware.

#ConcussionMonday is an initiative started by Barrow Neurological Institute at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center to raise awareness about concussion and traumatic brain injury on social media. Hospitals and medical centers across the country use #ConcussionMonday on Twitter to link to education and reminders about concussion prevention.  Read our past posts below: Week 4: How does a concussion happen? Week 3: What parents should know  Week 2: Neurologist Dr. David Wheeler talks symptoms and treatments Week 1: A high school coach’s guide to recognizing concussions

Concussion Monday: How does a concussion happen?

Visual of what happens to your brain when you get  concussion
What really happens when you suffer a concussion?

As part of our ongoing Concussion Monday series, we developed a graphic to help people understand what really goes on in the ‘ole noggin when one suffers a concussion.

The Pulse is participating in #ConcussionMonday, an initiative started by Barrow Neurological Institute at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center to raise awareness about concussion and traumatic brain injury on social media. Hospitals and medical centers across the country use #ConcussionMonday on Twitter to link to education and reminders about concussion prevention.

Read our past Concussion Monday posts below:

Monday 3: What parents should know 

Monday 2: Neurologist Dr. David Wheeler talks symptoms and treatments

Monday 1: A high school coach’s guide to recognizing concussions

Concussion Monday: What parents should know about concussion

By Dr. Ania Pollack, neurosurgeon at Wyoming Medical Center

The opening of a new school year means not only books and classrooms but also an explosion of athletic activities. The types soccerof contact and collision sports which are available to kids at much younger ages are growing in school sponsored events. There should be no surprise that we are also seeing a significant increase of head concussions affecting our children.

In fact, it has been estimated that about 700,000 concussions per year occur in children ages 1 to 19. Concussions have doubled for children ages 8 to 13 and have increased more than 300 percent for 14- to 19-year-old.  These statistics are for the concussions that are confirmed by hospitals and do not include at least 40 percent more concussions that are not reported.

Beginning sports in the elementary schools exposes our kids to 6 or 7 more years of potential injuries leading to the scary statistic of 68 percent of children having at least one concussion by the time they enter high school.

The most important part of concussion awareness is the recognition of its symptoms. These include:

— severe headache

— difficulty concentrating or suffering from loss of memory, slow decision making, a total lack of focus, or the inability to recall normal routine

— dizziness, vertigo, difficulty with balance

— unequal size of pupils

— nausea and vomiting

— blurred vision

— irritability and emotional outbursts

— slurred speech

— disrupted sleep patterns

If you notice any of these symptoms in your child, especially in light of a recent trauma, seek immediate medical attention. Why?  Because the brain is the most important organ in your body and it can be severely affected by concussions that may cause acute and/or long term injuries.

The most talked about injuries are subdural and epidural hematomas or any other type of brain bleeding that unfortunately has taken lives of young athletes every year. It can be detected by a head CT and appropriately treated by a neurosurgeon.

Other injuries are more subtle, but still rob our children of normal brain function such as attention, memory, multitasking and may lead to behavioral and personality changes. Unfortunately concussions are a part of our everyday life, but dealing with them promptly and correctly will help minimize potential short and long term problems.

Dr. Ania Pollack is a locums neurosurgeon at Wyoming Brain and Spine Associates, 1020 E. Second St., in Casper. Email  wyomingbrainandspine@wyomingmedicalcenter.org or make an appointment by calling (307) 266-2222.

This article was originally published in the For Your Kids’ Health e-newsletter, a project by Wyoming Medical Center and Natrona County School District. Find more articles and health tips for children of all ages by clicking on For Your Kids’ Health from The Pulse’s homepage.

 

Concussion Monday: Neurologist Dr. David Wheeler talks symptoms and treatments

You don’t have to lose consciousness to suffer a concussion.

By definition, a concussion is any impact injury to the brain that causes a disruption in normal neurologic function.  That disruption could include drowsiness, slurred speech or any number of other symptoms – some of which could last several days.

Concussion, especially repeated concussions no matter how minor, can have serious long term consequences. For this reason, The Pulse is participating in  #ConcussionMonday, an initiative started by Barrow Neurological Institute at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center to raise awareness about concussion and traumatic brain injury on social media.

For our second post, we spoke with Dr. David Wheeler, neurologist with Wyoming Medical Center and Wyoming Neurologic Associaties. Watch the video to learn about the signs and symptoms of concussion and what parents should do if their children experience one.

To get a coach’s pocket-guide for signs and symptoms, check out our first post: Concussion Monday: A high school coach’s guide to recognizing concussions. To join the conversation, follow #ConcussionMonday on Twitter for concussion facts, prevention and inspiration from patient success stories.

Concussion Monday: A high school coach’s guide to recognizing concussions

football
Members of the Wyoming high school all-star North and South teams compete in the 2013 Shrine Bowl at Natrona County High School in Casper. Wyoming high school football begins Friday, and coaches and players should know the symptoms of concussion. (Photo by Dan Cepeda Photography)

The start of Wyoming high school football on Friday means packed bleachers, high-flying cheerleaders and helmet-cracking starts off scrimmage.

It also means an increased risk of concussion.

“In recent years, there’s been a huge uptick in our awareness in the importance of concussion, and I think the reason for that is we now understand that a concussion doesn’t just happen when the force of the blow is strong enough to render you unconscious,” said Dr. David Wheeler, a neurologist with Wyoming Medical Center and Wyoming Neurologic Associates in Casper. “A minor blow to the head, even if it doesn’t cause any noticeable change in function, takes its toll.”

Neither is concussion a concern only for football coaches.

For the next several weeks, The Pulse will participate in #ConcussionMonday, an initiative started by Barrow Neurological Institute at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center to raise awareness about concussion and traumatic brain injury on social media. Hospitals and medical centers across the country use #ConcussionMonday on Twitter to link to education and reminders about concussion prevention.

Our first contribution is this concussion pocket guide designed for Wyoming high school athletic coaches. Use it to help determine whether a player has suffered a concussion, even when he or she may not have lost consciousness, and what your next step should be.

Print and cut it out, paste the backs together and keep it with you for handy reference in practice or during games. You can also get one by calling the Wyoming Medical Center Community Development Office at (307)-577-2556.

Concussion Signs Card 2013-Back

Concussion Signs Card 2013-Front

What parents need to know about concussions

By Dr. Ania Pollack, neurosurgeon at Wyoming Medical Center

The opening of a new school year means not only books and classrooms but also an explosion of athletic activities. The types soccerof contact and collision sports which are available to kids at much younger ages are growing in school sponsored events. There should be no surprise that we are also seeing a significant increase of head concussions affecting our children.

In fact, it has been estimated that about 700,000 concussions per year occur in children ages 1 to 19. Concussions have doubled for children ages 8 to 13 and have increased more than 300 percent for 14- to 19-year-old.  These statistics are for the concussions that are confirmed by hospitals and do not include at least 40 percent more concussions that are not reported.

Beginning sports in the elementary schools exposes our kids to 6 or 7 more years of potential injuries leading to the scary statistic of 68 percent of children having at least one concussion by the time they enter high school.

The most important part of concussion awareness is the recognition of its symptoms. These include:

— severe headache

— difficulty concentrating or suffering from loss of memory, slow decision making, a total lack of focus, or the inability to recall normal routine

— dizziness, vertigo, difficulty with balance

— unequal size of pupils

— nausea and vomiting

— blurred vision

— irritability and emotional outbursts

— slurred speech

— disrupted sleep patterns

If you notice any of these symptoms in your child, especially in light of a recent trauma, seek immediate medical attention. Why?  Because the brain is the most important organ in your body and it can be severely affected by concussions that may cause acute and/or long term injuries.

The most talked about injuries are subdural and epidural hematomas or any other type of brain bleeding that unfortunately has taken lives of young athletes every year. It can be detected by a head CT and appropriately treated by a neurosurgeon.

Other injuries are more subtle, but still rob our children of normal brain function such as attention, memory, multitasking and may lead to behavioral and personality changes. Unfortunately concussions are a part of our everyday life, but dealing with them promptly and correctly will help minimize potential short and long term problems.

Dr. Ania Pollack is a locums neurosurgeon at Wyoming Brain and Spine Associates, 1020 E. Second St., in Casper. Email  wyomingbrainandspine@wyomingmedicalcenter.org or make an appointment by calling (307) 266-2222.

This article was originally published in the For Your Kids’ Health e-newsletter, a project by Wyoming Medical Center and Natrona County School District. Find more articles and health tips for children of all ages by clicking on For Your Kids’ Health from The Pulse’s homepage.