The CDC Issues New Guidelines to Diagnose & Track Concussions in Kids

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The U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has new recommendations that all parents need to read. New concussion guidelines from the CDC outline exactly what steps parents and medical professionals should follow when it comes to any type of kids’ head injury. If you have a kiddo in any kind of organized sport, definitely read on.

Using 25 years of scientific research on managing concussions, the CDC has developed new guidelines that recommend against routine x-rays and blood work to diagnose concussions in kids. The report does reassure parents that most kids’ symptoms will clear up within one to three months on their own; however, if a child shows any symptoms of a more serious injury—such as vomiting, unconsciousness and severe, worsening headaches—then a CT scan might be in order.

Photo: KeithJJ via Pixabay

While evidence-based guidelines for sports-related concussions have already been established by the American Academy of Neurology, these new CDC guidelines apply to any type of head injury, including car accidents and falls, as well as sports concussions.

The CDC recommends that immediately after any type of concussive injury, kids should take a break from physical and mental activities (including sports and school) and rest for three days. They should then slowly resume their regular routine, as longer inactivity might make symptoms worse. It’s also very important that concussion symptoms get reported right away, according to CDC brain injury specialist Matthew Breiding.

“Some children and teens think concussions aren’t serious or worry that if they report a concussion they will lose their position on the team or look weak. Remind them that it’s better to miss one game than the whole season,” Breiding said.

These new guidelines come on the heels of many new reports and laws concerning tackle football and other contact sports for kids that have a high risk of concussions. Repetitive concussions have been linked to chronic traumatic encephalopathy or CTE in football players, a debilitating brain disease.

Breiding says it’s important to keep in mind that a person doesn’t need to lose consciousness to have suffered a concussion. Instead the symptoms to look out for after a head injury are headaches, dizziness, sensitivity to light or noise and sleep problems. If parents notice any of these, they should seek medical attention as soon as possible. Kids with untreated concussions are at risk for suffering from additional concussions, which can take longer from which to recover.

—Shahrzad Warkentin



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