With the back-to-school season hot on our heels, excitement for the competitive sports season is starting to build. For parents of young athletes that means it’s time to start budgeting for equipment and organizing training schedules—but safety should also be top of mind for active kids, especially those who play contact sports like football or hockey.

It’s no secret that concussions are common in the sports world. Most of these cases lead to temporary symptoms such as headaches, confusion, dizziness, or light sensitivity. But even the most minor of concussions can lead to serious health consequences if not treated properly.

“When you suffer a concussion your brain swells to protect itself. But if you sustain a second concussion before your brain has time to build that protective mechanism back up, you put yourself at risk of second-impact syndrome,” explains Align chiropractor and concussion expert Dr. Cindy Heavener. Second-impact syndrome (SIS) leads to rapid and dramatic swelling of the brain. The condition can occur days, or even weeks after suffering another concussion.

In March, the Ontario government passed legislation known as “Rowan’s Law,” named after an Ottawa high school student who died after being tackled during a school rugby game. She had suffered two concussions that week. The law ensures players are removed from games if they are suspected of having a concussion, and provides teachers and coaches with resources to help them identify concussions.

“One of the best things that Rowan’s Law has brought about is awareness,” says Dr. Heavener. “Everybody needs to know what concussion symptoms look like.”

Know the Symptoms

 The best way to prevent second-impact syndrome is to know the symptoms of a concussion and make sure your child is treated right away. The signs and symptoms of a concussion can be subtle and may not show up immediately. Symptoms can include:

  • Temporary loss of consciousness
  • Confusion or changes in mood
  • Headaches or a feeling of pressure in the head
  • Dizziness and loss of balance
  • Nausea or vomitting
  • Light sensitivity

You should always seek emergency care if your child loses consciousness for more than 30 seconds, has repeat vomiting, or complains of increasing head pain. For more minor cases, you should visit your family doctor one to two days following the injury.

Dr. Heavener specializes in Integrated Brain Therapy, which can help treat concussion symptoms that may linger in some patients, including eye sensitivity, headaches, and balance issues. “It’s the difference between concussion management and concussion treatment,” she explains. “There are all kinds of different therapies to bring your nervous system back into balance.”

By treating theses symptoms, not only can Dr. Heavener help speed up the recovery process, but treatment can also prevent a secondary concussion from causing more damage.

If you, or your child is suffering from lingering concussion symptoms, book a complimentary 15-minute consultation with Dr. Heavener today.

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