Many of us have "had our bell rung", "seen stars", or been "knocked silly". Not a big deal, right?
What these terms are describing is what we now call a concussion. Recent research shows that concussions are not as benign as we once thought.
Unfortunately, no test can diagnose a concussion. CT scans and MRIs are normal (and generally unnecessary). The diagnosis is based on symptoms alone, and the symptoms can be somewhat vague. Although we have always thought that one can "shake off" a concussion quickly, this is not the case. Symptoms generally last for days, and often for weeks. The only treatment is rest (both mental and physical). Ignoring symptoms ("toughing it out") can make symptoms last much longer.
Fortunately, there are good resources designed for parents and children that help you to recognize the symptoms of concussion, and advice on how to manage the recovery. This short pamphlet describes the symptoms of a concussion, along with guidelines regarding return to school and return to play. For those looking for more in depth information, the Think First website is loaded with the most up to date information for caregivers, teachers, athletes, coaches and kids.