“From the time you start walking, you are falling down,” said Tangco. “At first it’s playground games, and then the play gets more organized with sports like soccer and football. They put you together and tell you to run around and if you get hit or fall down, they tell you to keep playing and tough it out. And that’s not always a good idea.”
Your brain is protected from minor bumps by cerebral-spinal fluid and a leather-like sack called the meninges, which surround and pad the soft brain tissue. A harder hit, however, can jolt the tissue and disrupt normal neuroactivity. It’s called a concussion.
Most concussions heal on their own with time, but symptoms don’t always show up right away. Since MRIs and X-rays can’t detect a concussion, parents need to be especially vigilant.
Signs of a concussion can include loss of consciousness, headache, sleepiness, anxiety or irritability, slurred speech and difficulty concentrating.
If your teen sustains a blow to the head during a sporting activity, you might want to insist he or she comes out of the game or event for the remainder of the day. It’s also a good idea to insist that your teen wear a properly fitted protective helmet whenever possible.
But in the end, said Dr. Tangco, parents should simply rely on their intuition: “Go with your gut. If you’re worried about your child, then take them to the doctor. You’re the best judge of your child, and it pays to err on the side of caution when it comes to concussions. They happen more often than we think.”