Young kids at risk for concussion

Emergency rooms across the country treat roughly 21,000 playground-related head injuries in kids every year.

A year ago, Jerrica Allen took her young son Fisher to the nursery at their church in Perry. The room was filled with toys made of foam and fit for children half her son's age.

While his mother was outside of the room, Fisher saw the soft play set in the middle of the room and had an idea.

"I just wanted to jump off of it, and I didn't just know that I was going to fall down and land on my head first and not my body and my feet," he says, now 5 years old.

"I was standing about six feet away when it happened," says his mother. "I didn't hear anything until he started crying. I didn't hear him hit the ground or anything."

She says no one saw it happen, but her husband Llamar took him to the hospital just to be safe. He says that's when he realized that something wasn't right.

"He's normally begging us for Sprite or something like that and he didn't want anything to do with that," Llamar says. "We don't let him play a lot of games on tablets or phones, and I offered to let him play a game. He looked at it for a few minutes than gave it back to me."


Fisher says he also remembers feeling very tired and starting vomiting when he got to the hospital.

Dr. Andy Bozeman says he sees plenty of cases just like this at The Medical Center, Navicent Health. He says it's almost impossible to fully protect your child everywhere they go, but what you can do is know what to look out for.

"It's hard for the smaller children to vocalize that they have a headache," he says. "Some of the more subtle things are what you have to pick up on, and sometimes that could be a loss of balance or a disinterest in playing."

He suggests taking your child to see a doctor as soon as possible to rule out any underlying issues. He says that could include a number of things like fluid buildup in the brain or even permanent nerve damage. Dr. Bozeman says both are unlikely in most concussion cases, but they are possibilities.

Diagnosing a concussion can be very difficult. Dr. Bozeman says there are no physical signs of a concussion that would show up in a scan. However, he says there is promising research happening right now on a blood test that could detect a concussion.

He says two specific proteins are released in the body after a brain injury. The blood test can detect those proteins and how much of each has been released, giving doctors a way to understand how severe the brain injury is.

Findings released in March from a study by The Orlando Regional Medical Center suggest the blood test can be accurate up to a week after the injury.

Dr. Bozeman says he's excited to see how the test will change the way doctors diagnose and treat concussions once it is put to use nationwide.

For now, he says your child should be good as new after at least a week of rest. He says most concussions will not lead to long-term problems, but multiple concussions could have a large impact on a child's ability to learn and develop.


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