I was reading the Harvard Health Publications last week that discussed the revised guidelines by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) stating that children and teens should not participate in boxing due to concussions. In the revised guidelines recently released by the AAP, the academy strongly believes that those under 19 years of age are especially at risk with concussions because the brain is still developing. Children also tend to take longer to heal after a concussion than adults.
The AAP cites mainly boxing because as they say, it is the only contact sport that awards points based on the quantity and quality of the blow to the opponent's head. With other sports, hits to the head are more of a byproduct of the game. Based on the science, I believe that parents should carefully weigh whether their child participates in boxing, as it is a very violent game and concussions are extremely serious.
I wanted to share this with you because although the AAP mainly focused on boxing, vast amounts of our children do play football. As high school, college and professional football kicks off in earnest, parents should be aware of the concussion issue. Mounting research is showing that there can be long-term problems associated with repeated concussions. It is not to say that they should not play football or other contact sports, but parents should always be vigilant in monitoring the hits being absorbed.
In general, a concussion is a head trauma that alters mental state. As the heads takes a hit, the brain sloshes around inside the head. That back and forth motion disrupts the neurons needed for normal function by interrupting the relay of impulses between the brain and the brain stem. This disturbance in function is temporary, and the time it takes to return to normal function helps physicians gauge the severity of the concussion.
Concussions are commonly graded on a scale of 1, 2 or 3, with 3 being the most severe. A CT Scan or MRI should be performed on a Grade 3 and often times even a Grade 2. Definitely seek medical attention with any loss of consciousness.
If you suspect your child has suffered a concussion, look for telltale symptoms. The top five symptoms of a concussion include:
- Being unconscious for any length of time
- Nausea or vomiting
- Memory loss
If your child has been diagnosed with a concussion, always follow the treatment advice of your physician. Post-concussion healing may involve headaches, chronic fatigue, depression, inability to concentrate, or trouble sleeping. Resting the brain is extremely important, and under no circumstance should he or she be allowed to return to practice or a game until completely cleared by the physician.