Parents can help doctors identify concussions
Concussion symptoms are not always apparent and parents need to know the signs and check for a doctor if their teenagers suffer, experts claim. Their symptoms are evident. According to Dr. Rory Tucker, a sports medicine professional at Penn State Bone and the Joint Center in Hershey, Penn, only those closest to a teen can recognize the often slight shifts in behavior and emotion resulting from a concussion.
“Parents may notice a change in their teen’s sleep patterns,” Tucker explained. “He or she may be more withdrawn, socializing less with friends or family members, more emotional or tearful. They may have anger outbursts or be more nervous than they were before.”
Because doctors should not be familiar with the normal emotional state of a patient, parents need to advocate for their children.
“Medication is rarely necessary in the long term, but while a concussion is healing, it can sometimes be beneficial to take medication to control moods,” Tucker said in a Penn State news release. “We also use medications to assist with sleep. Impairment of sleep can have a detrimental impact on emotional health and how people interact with others.”
This is also important for parents to recognize that the symptoms of concussion can be close to those of depression and anxiety, and that a concussion can intensify underlying mental health issues.
At Milton S. Hershey Medical Center in Hershey, Dr. Craig DiGiovanni is a postdoctoral fellow in psychology and behavioral health. He said, “Parents should look out for more concerning symptoms of depression that are outside the scope of common concussion symptoms, like loss of interest in activities, significant weight gain or loss, feelings of worthlessness and suicidal thoughts.”
Changes of lifestyle that can result from a concussion can also be hard for a child, he said.
When injured student-athletes are no longer able to participate in their sport, parents can help “provide them in other forms with a sense of purpose,” DiGiovanni said. A further alternative is community groups.
“No matter what their injury, they are not alone. There is help,” he said. “Young people can get help from those who came before them and help those who come after them. They can gain a lot of strength in believing they still have purpose.”