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Sports-Related Concussions in Children

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Fox News, 3:39, 02/07/2011

3.8 million sports-related concussions occur per year in the United States. Due to potential damage to the brain, diagnosing a concussion quickly is important in receiving proper treatment. A new 2 minute test is being conducted to try to diagnose when a concussion has occurred, but more research needs to be done to see if this test is accurate or even valid.

A concussion occurs when a person is first hit in the head causing the front of their brain to hit up against the inside of the skull and then when the brain hits the back of the skull from a second impact such as falling backward onto the ground.

The frontal lobe of the brain controls our personality, behavior, and our ability to do calculations. The back of the brain controls our vision. When a concussion occurs the symptoms are a change in personality, blurry vision, difficulty with calculations, nausea and vomiting.

The test itself works by using flash cards with numbers on them that they have the child read to make sure that attention and vision are intact. If there's a delay of 5 seconds or more when showing the card this is a sign that a concussion is very possible.

It's important that parents be able to recognize the symptoms of a concussion listed above. An important thing to note is that there does not need to be a loss of consciousness for a concussion to have occurred.

If a concussion does occur, and it's mild, a child should be monitored for 24 hours to see if any of the symptoms get worse. If they do, bring the child to the emergency room for immediate treatment. A CT scan or MRI of the brain should be done to check for bleeding in the brain.

Mild concussions usually heal in about 2 weeks, but that may be longer for some people. During the healing process it's extremely important that the child not receive another hit to the head as it could cause permanent damage and long term effects. During this time children should not take part in their sports.

Long term effects of a major concussion can be depression, amnesia, and Alzheimer's due to a buildup of plaque and toxic proteins in the brain.

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