School has started again and teenagers and high schools are back playing sports such as football, baseball, basketball etc. There is a concern about players getting concussions with the recent research findings. We have even seen professional athletes give up their careers after a concussion. The long term effects of concussions can be quite serious. Mohammed Ali is the best example of how multiple concussions can impact someone.
Typically, when we think about concussions we think about boys who play football. However, this does not give an accurate picture of the issue of teenagers and concussions. Girls are at risk too. Girls can suffer concussions from gymnastics, cheerleading and other activities. Even on the television show, Dancing with the Stars, we see how someone can get a concussion from dancing. Basically, any activity where you can hit your head can result in a concussion. Also research is showing it is not just boys who suffer concussions, girls do too.
The other facts that are coming out in the research is that a single concussion can have long term effects. A concussion can cause severe headaches, difficult concentrating, memory problems and mood swings just to name a few symptoms. These symptoms can last a month or several years. There is no way to determine how long these symptoms will persist.
I see this often in my office with teenagers I see for psychotherapy. They are suffering from Post Concussion Syndrome. This is very scary and frustrating for teenagers and their parents. The teenager gets frustrated because they can do their homework like they could before the concussion and they don’t know if these symptoms will last a month or forever. This is a very scary situation to be in for anyone. All I can do is help them manage their anxiety and learn how to adjust to the symptoms. This helps slightly but it doesn’t give the teen the result they really want. They want the symptoms to disappear.
Another frustrating issue teenagers face due to the symptoms they have after a concussion is they may need to take a brake from school or they may need an Individualized Educational Plan (IEP) to help them cope with their symptoms. For more information about IEPs visit http://www.lucascenter.org.
Since we are getting more and more information on concussions and head traumas, parents need to pay attention to news reports or search online for the most recent studies regarding concussions. In the mean time, parents use your best judgement. Demand that your teenager’s high school has all the latest equipment to protect your teenager from a head injury. Also training how to protect their heads and avoid head injuries should be part of their practice whether they are playing football or cheerleading. Finally, if your child hits there head, play it safe and have a physician evaluate them. We are learning that there are minor symptoms that may indicate a concussion. A person does not always have to black out or be confused after hitting their head. Yes these are symptoms, but there are many more that we are becoming aware of and physicians can look for.
I have included a link to a video where a cheerleader discusses her experience with concussions. Please watch it because it demonstrates my points that girls suffer concussions too, Post Concussion Syndrome can last a long time and often symptoms are minor. Also with Post Concussion Syndrome many teenagers do benefit from therapy. The Syndrome often creates depression and anxiety. So overall, parents use your best judgement and if you are concerned have your child evaluated. Here is the link to the video http://linkis.com/abcnews.go.com/GMA/v/z4VRe.
Dr. Michael Rubino has over 19 years experience working with children and teenagers. He is considered an expert in the treatment of children and teens. For more information regarding Dr. Rubino’s work or private practice visit his website at http://www.rcs-ca.com or his Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/drrubino3