The Lasting Effects of Concussions in Children

The Lasting Effects of Concussions in ChildrenWhen it comes to head injuries, they should always be taken seriously. Not just the bleeding head wound someone suffers during a car accident, but also smaller bumps to the head one might experience from banging it against a roof beam in your attic. What one may consider to be a negligible injury could actually be an insidious brain injury in waiting. People tend to believe that when a child suffers a head injury like a concussion, that it is not serious, since children heal faster than adults, but unfortunately, this is a dangerous perception.

When a child suffers a head injury, it is especially important to ensure that they are checked over by a medical professional, as damage to a developing brain increases the risk of leaving lasting effects on the child as they grow older. One of the most common places children and teens receive concussions and other head injuries is while participating in sports.  Coaches, schools, and organizations are responsible for ensuring that team members are given proper protective gear, and that appropriate procedure is taken after a suspected head injury. If a child suffers a concussion due to someone’s negligence, an Oklahoma City brain injury lawyer can ensure you and your family receive compensation for any pain, suffering, and treatment.

What is a concussion?

A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury (TBI). TBIs occur when normal brain function is disrupted by a jolt, bump, blow, or penetrating injury. While a concussion is a mild form of TBI, ignoring it and not having it examined by a medical professional can lead to complications later on. It is difficult for laypeople to know whether a concussion needs further treatment, rest, or whether it’s even a concussion at all.

Often, symptoms of a concussion present themselves immediately after the injury, but sometimes, the symptoms can be delayed and may only show a few days or up to a week later. Even if the symptoms of a concussion are not severe, it is important that the child sees a medical professional right away for a proper diagnosis.

Some symptoms of a concussion include:

  • Blood or fluid coming out of their nose or ears
  • Seizures
  • Lost consciousness (passing out)
  • Worsening headaches
  • Repeated vomiting
  • Trouble breathing
  • Trouble walking or standing
  • Change in pupil size (one is bigger than the other, or both are unusually large)
  • Slurring words or trouble speaking
  • Noticeable bruising or a large bump anywhere on the head

Most children who rest and manage their concussions as directed heal to 100% in a matter of 10 days or so. However, there are some children who need more time to recover, and it is important that they receive it. It is better to be safe than sorry, as children who sustain another head injury while the first is still healing are far more likely to develop complications, and serious, long-term health problems later in life.

What are the long-term effects of my child’s concussion?

Although the United States does not maintain large national databases for long-term concussion effects, other countries do. It is from those countries that research and studies have been performed, and the results (discussed below) show the dangers of concussions in children, especially repeated concussions. When a child has had one concussion, they are at a higher risk of suffering another, and the effects of repeated concussions over a span of years can increase drastically.

According to the Mayo Clinic, post-concussion syndrome “is a complex disorder of concussion symptoms that last longer than the usual concussion recovery period.” While it is still unclear why some children suffer this syndrome while others do not, risk factors include repeat concussions and increase the likelihood of developing post-concussion syndrome.

Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is a brain condition caused by multiple blows to the head over the span of several years, and usually occurs in pro athletes, like football players, boxers, and wrestlers. Disturbingly, symptoms of CTE are often similar to degenerative brain conditions, especially Alzheimer’s disease. Symptoms of CTE include memory loss, difficulty thinking, mood changes, confusion and disorientation. As the condition progresses, symptoms worsen and can include slurred speech, parkinsonism, and difficulty eating/swallowing.

Elizabeth Sandel, M.D. has been treating and studying brain injuries for over 35 years, and details a study from Oxford University, by Professor Seena Fazel and her research team:

[They] analyzed data from the health, welfare, and education records of more than a million Swedes born between 1973 and 1985. They examined the long-term impact of having a traumatic brain injury (TBI) before the age of 25, comparing people who had experienced a TBI to controls (unaffected people in the same age group) and their brothers and sisters who had not had a TBI. They found that childhood TBIs increased the chances of low educational attainment, a need for psychiatric care, the likelihood of receiving welfare and disability benefits, and early death. Not unexpectedly, more severe brain injuries and repeated brain injuries made these outcomes even more likely.

It is inevitable that children will experience injuries of varying severity in their lives. We all do. It is a part of learning and a part of growing up. Some injuries require immediate medical attention, however, and a concussion is one of those injuries. There are some parents who may think that their child is fine after a hit to the head, especially if their symptoms seem mild, but the health of a child is not where one should take chances. Considering the long-term effects a concussion can have on a child, the best course of action is to take that child to a medical professional.

If your child suffered a concussion or other brain injury due to someone’s negligence (whether that was in a car accident or on a sports field), you deserve compensation for your child’s suffering and the risk for the long-term effects on their future. In order to receive proper restitution, call the Oklahoma City injury attorneys at Cunningham & Mears. You can also use our contact page to reach out. We care about the health of your children, and we take their injuries seriously.