Concussions arise from an injury to the tissues or blood vessels in the brain. These can occur when the soft tissues are pressed against the bone of the skull, resulting from an impact or blow to the head experienced during a fall or from sports injury. They can also occur from being forcefully shaken. Mild concussions in childhood are common and often are not a cause for serious health concern. However there are rare cases of childhood concussion that should not be taken lightly and it’s important to know what symptoms need to be looked for.

The general symptoms of concussion are varied, and depend on the severity of the injury and the individual themselves. Possible symptoms include dizziness, loss of consciousness and seizures. The latter two symptoms indicate a severe case of concussion (although a loss of consciousness itself may not be dangerous if short lived. However, symptoms that appear later could also be danger signs. A very common symptom experienced after a concussion is headache [2] that may be mild to moderate in intensity. A blow to your child’s head could also cause changes in their mood [3], such as crankiness and loss of interest in favorite items [4]. The way a child plays or works at school may be affected. After a concussion, a child may forget things or have difficulties in thinking [1], with possible short-term memory loss. Drowsiness and reduced energy are also common.

Sometimes a diagnosis of “mild concussion” is made by a physician, but the actual problem arises from the upper cervical spine.  The atlas holds up the head, and holds a crucial position for both balance and the expression of health.  See my previous post to learn more about its importance.  The atlas can be easily jarred by trauma or injury to the head, face, or neck area.  Parents must be aware that chiropractic physicians are highly trained at detecting and correcting these misalignments (better known as subluxations), but only a few have the extra training to correct the three-dimensional misalignments that happen in this area of the spine.  Such is the case from a recent patient:  “In the pre-season of my third year playing rugby for Notre Dame de La Salette Boys Academy, I injured my neck in practice while playing a defensive scrimmage.  My hand went numb and I was brought to the Emergency Room where they took X-rays, a CT scan, and an MRI…all of which appeared negative.  They did mention that there was soft tissue damage in my upper neck, but gave me no advice n how to repair the injury.  Four weeks later after seeing a chiropractor, it was still no better.  So, I started going to Dr Sooley, who immediately recognized my problem and began working on it.  I went from not being able to move my head from left to right to almost normal in two weeks.  I would like to thank Dr Sooley for what he has done for me and I encourage others with similar problems to try him.”  –Joseph Goodwin (5/11 signature on file)

Irrespective of advice you get on the internet or by phone, if you have any doubt in your mind about your child’s health after a head injury, seek the help of a professional.  You know your child best!

References used:
[1] Cantu RC (2006). “An overview of concussion consensus statements since 2000” (PDF). Neurosurgical Focus 21 (4:E3): 1–6.
[2]Kushner D (1998). “Mild Traumatic brain injury: Toward understanding manifestations and treatment”. Archives of Internal Medicine 158 (15): 1617–1624.
[3] Heegaard W, Biros M (2007). “Traumatic brain injury”. Emergency Medicine Clinics of North America 25 (3): 655–678, viii.
[4] Mayo Clinic Staff (2007). “Concussion”. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved 2008-01-10.