As you stand on the sidelines cheering for your young athlete, you’re likely filled with a spectrum of emotions. There’s excitement, pride and perhaps a little fear that your child could get injured. As a parent, one of the injuries you may worry about most is concussion.
Fortunately, research about concussions in young athletes is rapidly expanding to help healthcare providers and parents better manage them and prevent long-term complications. Recently, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) updated its guidelines for managing concussions in children and adolescents for the first time since 2010.
In the new report, the AAP re-emphasizes removing a child from play if a concussion is suspected. If a child experiences another head injury within 24 hours, recovery becomes even longer and more difficult.
The previous AAP report highlighted the importance of physical and mental rest following a concussion. However, recent research shows that physical activity is fine, and even helpful, for healing. The AAP now recommends allowing for some light activity, such as brisk walking, as long as it doesn’t worsen any symptoms.
Another key change to the guidelines is that children may use electronics during recovery. Since kids are so connected with their peers through social media these days, eliminating electronics such as computers, video games and texting—as previously suggested—could make them feel isolated and contribute to symptoms of depression or anxiety.
Most young athletes who suffer a concussion get better within four weeks of their injury. During this time, you may need to make some changes to your child’s schedule and daily activities, such as lessening schoolwork and offering lots of rest to aid recovery. If you have any concerns or notice that symptoms are getting worse, be sure to contact your child’s pediatrician.
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