Concussions are one of the most serious injuries from sports and recreational activities 

A concussion is a brain injury and is one of the most serious injuries that can happen from recreational and non-recreational activities either in school or out of school. Concussions are caused by a bump, blow or jolt to the head or a fall or blow to the body that causes the head and brain to move quickly back and forth. They don't just happen to athletes; concussions can happen at the playground, in the backyard, while riding a bicycle or even in school-based physical activities. Children and adolescents are in the learning phase of many sports, which can further increase their risk of head injury or concussion.

Do you know the current concussioncare recommendations when a child receives a bump or blow to the head or body? Are you aware that all concussions are serious and can occur without loss of consciousness? Even what seems to be a mild bump to the head could be potentially serious. A concussion is more serious on a developing young brain and must be addressed correctly.

Early concussion recognition can help with recovery or even save a life. Some people may not experience and/or report symptoms of a concussion until hours or days after the injury. You cannot see a concussion. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Heads UP program, one should watch for the following two things: A forceful blow to the head or body that causes the head to move rapidly and look for any change in the behavior, thinking or physical functioning of the injured individual. Also, according to the CDC Heads Up program, the signs and symptoms of a concussion are the following:

Signs observed by others may include:

Appears dazed or stunned Is confused about assignment Forgets sports plays Is unsure of game, score and/or opponent Moves clumsily Answers questions slowly Loses consciousness (even briefly) or appears groggy Shows behavior or personality changes Can't recall events prior to hit or fall Can't recall events after hit or fall

Symptoms reported by an injured party may include: Headache or pressure in head Nausea or vomiting Balance problems or dizziness Double or blurry vision Sensitivity to light Sensitivity to noise Feeling sluggish, hazy, foggy Concentration or memory problems Confusion Does not feel right People who experience one or more of the above signs and symptoms after a bump, blow or jolt to the head or body should see a health care provider. A person showing any of the following danger signs should seek emergency care immediately: unequal pupils, drowsiness or cannot be awakened, worsening headache, weakness, numbness, decreased coordination, repeated vomiting or nausea, slurred speech, convulsion or seizures, cannot recognize people or places, increased confusion or agitation, has unusual behavior, loss of consciousness, even if brief.

Knowing the facts may save a child's life and/or prevent serious long-term brain injury.

For further information, see www.cdc.gov/consussion/index.html.

Linda Compton, a registered nurse with a Master of Science degree, is entering her 16th year as school nurse at Great Brook School in Antrim. She is past president of the N.H. School Nurses Association and currently the N.H. director for the National Association of School Nurses. Pam Murphy, a registered nurse with a Bachelor of Science degree, is entering her 15th year as school nurse at Peterborough Elementary School. She served on the board of the National Association of School Nurses and is the immediate past-president of the N.H. School Nurses Association.

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