Answers to common concussion questions

5:02 PM, Feb 7, 2012   |    comments
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ST. PAUL, Minn. - Brain injury experts in the KARE 11 studio phone bank Monday night received dozens of calls. Many calls were from parents concerned about their young children. We took their questions to a pediatrician for answers.

Dr. Angela Sinner, a specialist in pediatric rehabilitation medicine with Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare in Saint Paul, works with kids with concussions.

What are the symptoms of a concussion? Sinner said the initial signs can be obvious like "loss of consciousness or blacking out, nausea or vomiting blurry vision. Other symptoms can be more subtle or show up later, difficulty with memory, focus, attention, slowed thinking, difficulty with processing or increased fatigue."

What is the best treatment? Sinner said, "A period of time away from school at home and watching TV without texting, without video games, without computer use." Sinner said watching TV is passive so it is OK.

Some parents of young athletes are concerned coaches may let their kids back into a game too soon. Sinner said, "If parents think child has had a concussion they should be removed from play and allowed to rest essentially."

What is the protocol for return to school and return to play? Sinner said it varies with each case. When symptoms are gone a student may be able to go back to school. Returning to play could take longer. She said, "Working on progression in activities, often either with a physical therapist or trainer, with a provider, working on slowly getting back into things, making sure symptoms don't return."

Sinner wanted to make sure parents and coaches know that, "There are plenty of cases that are out there that show that repetitive concussions and injuries have a significant and long lasting effect. These kids need their optimally functioning brains to do well long term in life and in society. So protecting that brain is very important."

There were also many adults who called the phone bank wanting to know what symptoms can persist decades after a concussion. Dr. Mark Gormley, Jr., also of Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare, said if someone had repeated concussions in youth, it's possible they may suffer depression, express violent behavior or have memory loss later in life.

If you have more questions or didn't get a chance to call into our phone banks Monday night, you'll have another chance.

The experts from the Brain Injury Association of Minnesota will be back on Wednesday, February 8, during our 5, 6 and 10 p.m. newscasts. We will also have a live chat on during the evening newscasts where experts from the Brain Injury Association will answer questions online.

Many callers were looking for a support group. The Brain Injury Association can help with that as it has support groups.

(Copyright 2012 KARE. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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