By Hailey C. Henderson, MS, CCC/SLP Speech Language Pathologist
With high school football well under way, this particular post will spotlight the topic of sports related concussions specifically looking at how they impact athletes and parents of athletes. Of note, high impact sports is not the only way to obtain a concussion. Anyone can become injured during a fall, car accident or any other daily activity. If your child participates in impact sports such as football or boxing, you have an increased risk of getting a concussion. In 2010, the CDC estimated approximately 2.5 million people in the United States visited the hospital with traumatic brain injuries (TBI).
What is a concussion?A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury (TBI). Concussions are caused by a bump or blow to the head. Even a very mild bump or blow to the head could be very serious. You can't see a concussion. But you can look for some signs and symptoms that will likely show up right after the injury. However, some symptoms may not appear or be noticed until days or weeks after the injury. If your child reports any symptoms of concussion, or if you notice the symptoms yourself, seek medical attention right away.
What are some signs and symptoms of concussion?Athletes say:
What do you do if you think your child has a concussion?
What role does the speech language pathologist play if my child has a concussion?Sometimes after a concussion, people demonstrate cognitive problems as well as communication problems which can impair their ability to live independently. They may not be able to organize their thoughts; they may have a hard time processing new information; or they may have trouble finding the “right” words that they need to express themselves. Early on after a TBI, especially if the injury is more severe, the person may have trouble with swallowing, chewing, or forming basic word sounds.
The speech language pathologist is involved in evaluating and teaching speech, writing, reading, and expression skills aimed at both comprehension and communication. For a person with brain injury, the SLP may work on attention, organization, planning, and sequencing. They also specialize in teaching memory strategies - a classic problem in TBI.
How can you help your child return to school safely after concussion?Children and teens who return to school after concussion may need to:
Talk with your child's teachers, school nurse, coaches, speech-language pathologist or counselor about your child's concussion and symptoms. As your child's symptoms decrease, the additional support can be removed gradually.