Until this week I knew nothing about concussions. In fact, I knew less than nothing - I had misconceptions that I'd learned along the way somehow.
I thought you shouldn't let a person fall asleep if you suspect they have a concussion, and that you should look at their eyes to see if their pupils look like they're the same size. Wrong, and wrong.
Here's what I learned from the doctors and nurses this week:
- It is fine if they fall asleep (on the way to the hospital, for example), you just don't want to let them sleep and sleep and sleep before you've figured out if they have actual swelling in their brain that could cause long term damage or death.
- Not every concussion is a real problem - there are minor concussions and there are major concussions.
- When they look in their eyes they are looking more for normal reaction to light than to the size of the pupil itself. If one of the pupils is not responding appropriately, one side of the brain is likely being affected.
- If a child is under 6 months old, they are more likely to get a concussion from bumping their head and careful observation is extremely important to figure out the severity (they may keep them in the hospital for observation).
- If a child is acting "intoxicated" and really not themselves, this is a sign of a concussion. The same goes for if they are acting intoxicated and then lethargic, or are mixed up and not responding well verbally - this indicates a big problem and you need to seek IMMEDIATE medical attention.
- They'll tell you if your child passes out or vomits, this is also a sign of a more severe concussion. However, sometimes the vomiting doesn't happen right away. If it doesn't happen right away and your child is acting otherwise completely normal, it is after vomiting 3 times that you should be heading back to the ER.
- If it has been over 24 hours and your child has been acting completely normal but then starts vomiting, it is a good idea to still go in and have your child evaluated, but it could be something called post concussion syndrome - something that can happen after even a mild concussion, where vomiting and headaches can continue sporadically for weeks or even months after the initial injury!
- If you suspect a concussion, chances are your doctor is going to tell you to go to the ER because your child may need some kind of brain scan to check things out. All of the doctors we talked to this week recommend avoiding doing this scan on children unless a severe concussion is suspected - severe enough that it might require brain surgery to remove a clot or somehow otherwise relieve the swelling... I didn't get all the details on this one.
- If they do decide to do brain imaging, be forewarned that they will probably have to put your toddler to sleep to keep her still. And also know that the scan does expose your child to radiation - that's why doctors are so hesitant to recommend it unless they are very concerned and think your child is going to need surgery.
- When in doubt, go to the ER.
Daliya apparently has this post concussion syndrome - that's why she vomited 9 times in less than an hour but is acting fine again. They sent her home and aren't too worried. Nonetheless, this mama is still a little on edge keeping a very watchful eye on my precious lil' girl.