Parents following outdated concussion tips

Research from the US shows that many parents are relying on outdated advice when it comes to monitoring their child after a concussion.

Parents could be doing more harm than good if they are regularly waking a child a week after they have had a concussion, research suggests.

A US study has found most parents follow outdated advice and still wake children during the night well after the concussion to check on them amid worries about potential swelling of the brain.

Some also stop their children exercising and take away their electronic devices.

Dr Christopher Giza, a paediatric neurologist at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), says sleep can actually help the brain recover faster in people who have been concussed.

"Once a professional has diagnosed your child and determined that there is no further risk, let them sleep," Dr Giza said.

"In fact, we encourage sleep very early on because that will help the brain heal faster."

Concussions are minor head injuries caused by a direct blow to the head or a sudden change in direction that causes the brain to strike the skull, such as when a person suffers whiplash in a car accident.

Some people can endure headaches and dizziness for a few weeks afterwards.

The study of 569 parents by UCLA Health asked how they would care for a child whose concussion symptoms persisted a week after their head injury.

More than three quarters said they would wake their child throughout the night to check on them, while 84 per cent said they would make them avoid any physical activity.

Nearly two thirds said they would take away electronic devices.

But regularly waking a child a week after a concussion can inadvertently complicate their child's recovery, Dr Giza said.

Doctors rely on evaluations of a child's mood, memory and energy levels to gauge how well they recover from a concussion.

"All those factors are dramatically altered if a child is awakened every few hours," Dr Giza said.

While children shouldn't go back to playing contact sports right away, gentle aerobic exercise such as walking is good for them a week after a concussion, he said.

Taking away electronic devices could also make children feel socially isolated during their recovery.

"The idea is to give them that initial rest and protect them from contact risk, but then start easing them back into intellectual, physical and social activity," Dr Giza said.


* Symptoms include a short period of unconsciousness, confusion, dizziness, amnesia, and persistent, low-grade headaches

* Anyone suspected of having concussion should be assessed by a doctor, who may order a CT scan

* Rest and analgesics to relieve pain are usually prescribed as treatments

* Most people recover completely. Sometimes headaches and dizziness can linger for weeks.

(Source: Brain Foundation)

Source AAP

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