Advice for Parents: What To Do If Your Child Sustains a Concussion

Dr. Robert Cantu describes in details various scenarios to help parents better understand when they can feel safe monitoring their child's symptoms themselves, when to take them to the doctor, or when to rush them to the emergency room.

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[Dr. Robert Cantu] Well I think if there are medical personnel there that obviously the medical personnel should be responsible for those issues, but if you're at a youth contest, and there are no medical personnel there, possibly there's somebody better qualified to assess things, but from a parent standpoint what I really want the parent to be is engaged, to be aware that they're not expected to be a doctor, they're not expected to make a diagnosis of concussion. But if they see a pretty big hit, if they see their child getting up very slowly, if their child seems to be stunned by it, or their balance seems to be off, the safe thing to do is to have the individual come out of the contest and not go back in. If they have symptoms that develop subsequently then it becomes a matter based on the number and severity whether you have a doctor check the child out. Certainly if post-concussion symptoms are worsening, that checking out should be sooner rather than later. If the symptoms are a headache that's the worst you have ever had in your life, and it's violent, especially if you have any nausea or vomiting associated with it, I'd say take the child to the accident floor and just make sure that they're not having an evolving blood clot. On the other hand, if the symptoms are some mild difficulty with memory, with thought or some lightheadedness or some ringing in the ears, as the long as the symptoms aren't getting worse you might sit tight on them and just simply observe the child for a period of time. But if the symptoms don't go away, and if the symptoms get worse, that's when for sure you want to have medical personnel that can diagnosis concussion and other intracranial problems see your child.
Posted on BrainLine August 30, 2013.

Produced by Noel Gunther and Erica Queen, BrainLine.

About the author: Robert Cantu, MD

Robert Cantu, MD is chief of Neurosurgery Service, chairman Department of Surgery, and director of Sports Medicine, Emerson Hospital; clinical professor, Department of Neurosurgery, and co-director, Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy, Boston University School of Medicine.

Dr. Robert Cantu