Concussion: My Personal Glimpse

ConcussionI’ve been coaching my son in soccer since he was five and he’s now 11, so I feel like I’ve seen a lot of injuries and near-misses, but I had never witnessed a concussion until recently. I feel like this is something I should share – as a parent and as a personal injury attorney – because brain injuries are so easy to misdiagnose.

Here’s my story…

I was coaching my team and it was near the end of practice. As usual, I made the kids run wind sprints (that awful exercise we all hated as kids in which you run up to a line, touch it, run back; then run up to a farther line and run all the way back… over and over). I always make the kids spread out because they can lose their balance when they spin around.

Unfortunately, two of the players got too close and, as one spun around, he clocked another player in the temple. The injured player — a tough, athletic kid — sat right down and started crying.

I asked him questions: “Did everything turn black?” Yes, he said. “Do you see spots or stars?” Yes. And I could tell that his eyes weren’t tracking very well. We sat for a little while and, as he seemed to be recovering, I asked his mother’s name. He didn’t know. I asked his dad’s name. He didn’t know.  Clearly, this was more than “having his bell rung.”

“Kids need to cut back on mental exertion, as well as physical exercise, when they’re recovering from a concussion.”

When his mom came to pick him up, I told her about the incident, and like every parent has done (myself included), she said, “He’ll be fine.” But when I told her that he didn’t know her name, we agreed that he should go directly to the ER.

He was diagnosed with a mild concussion and had to stay out of school for several days.

And I learned something: That child said he felt fine within hours of his injury but doctors forbid him from going to school, playing sports, watching TV and even reading for days! His brain needed rest. Just as a muscle in your body needs rest after an injury, so does your brain.

Brain Injury Alliance Colorado recently wrote an article on the topic and stated:

“Kids need to cut back on mental exertion, as well as physical exercise, when they’re recovering from a concussion, a new study shows.

Nearly 50 percent of the kids and young adults who didn’t reduce their mental strain took 100 days or more to fully recover, according to the study published in Pediatrics on Monday. Among those who cut back the most, almost all had recovered by 100 days, most within a couple of months.”

Read the complete article.

We hear about NFL players who think they’re “tough” to return to the field after a concussion, but study after study shows that they will face long-term consequences for not resting their brains.

I learned that we should always err on the side of caution and visit the ER if you have any doubts. And let’s keep our kids safe: give them the time to recover when they’ve experienced a concussion.