Concussion

Dr. Jorge Gomez

Expert: Dr. Jorge Gomez, primary care sports medicine physician at Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus, answers some of the most common questions about concussions.


Q: What are concussions?

A concussion is caused by a direct or indirect blow, trauma or jolt to the head, causing the body and head to accelerate or decelerate, resulting in dysfunction and a chemical imbalance in the brain.

Q: How are concussions diagnosed?

There is no single test to diagnose a concussion. A health care provider makes the diagnosis of concussion based on a history of a blow to the head, a report of symptoms such as those described above and the absence of signs or symptoms that would indicate a more serious problem, such as bleeding in the head or bruising of the brain. CT and MRI scans can be useful in making sure a child does not have a more serious problem, like bleeding in the head. Patients with concussions have normal CT or MRI scans. Patients also may be asked to perform tests on a computer, such as CogSport or ImPACT, to help assess how well their brain is working.

Q: What are the symptoms of concussion?

Symptoms may show up as headaches, nausea, balance problems, slowed reaction time, dizziness, light or sound sensitivity, blurry vision, sleep disturbance, difficulty concentrating or thinking, and/or mood changes. Everyone is different. The child may appear normal on the outside but have symptoms that impair everyday life. So it’s important for kids, parents, teachers, coaches and all caregivers to have open communication about what is going on.

Q: What should do if suspect my child has concussion?

If you are present, remove your child from athletic activity IMMEDIATELY, and do not let them participate further. Next, seek medical attention immediately. You will need to provide your child’s medical history and his or her cause of injury.

Q: How are concussions treated?

Rest is ultimately the best way to treat concussions. This includes avoiding all exercise and sport activities until the symptoms are completely gone. Rest also includes “brain rest,” including spending a minimum amount of time on the phone or texting, and may include a reduced homework load for school-age patients. Your child’s doctor can write a note asking teachers to reduce the workload while the child recovers. Brain rest also means no gaming or web-surfing. Limited use of social media may be allowed as long as this does not worsen the patient’s symptoms. Rest for a concussion also includes plenty of sleep. Your health care provider will usually recommend or prescribe medicine for the headache and may also recommend medicine to help with dizziness and nausea, or to help with sleep.

Learn more at texaschildrens.org/sportsmed or make an appointment by calling 832-22-SPORT (77678).