Sunday, August 28, 2011

Child sports concussions increase

Playing sports is the best physical exercise for children to keep them healthy but the number of child athletes taken to the emergency room in the USA has more than tripled from 7,000 in 1991 to 22,000 in 2007. A new study published by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) in the September 2010 issue of Pediatrics states that football has the highest incidence of concussion and that girls have higher concussion rates than boys in similar sports.

Concussion symptoms

A concussion is known as a mild brain injury. Experts define a concussion as a head injury with temporary loss of brain function which can cause cognitive, physical, and emotional symptoms. In the majority of concussion cases the individual doesn’t lose consciousness but will require proper treatment. Most physicians recommend plenty of rest to reduce the risk of developing chronic headaches, learning problems and poor memory. Your child may complain of a variety of symptoms and display a very moody demeanor. There can be complaints of headache, vision disturbance, dizziness, a loss of balance, confusion, memory loss, ringing or ears, nausea, sensitivity to light or noise, difficulty concentrating and feeling groggy.


If your child was hit on the playing field you should avoid asking your child to “tough it out”. Children or adolescents who sustain a concussion should always be evaluated by a physician and receive a medical clearance before returning to play. Symptoms of a mild concussion can be resolved in 7 to 10 days but the more severe concussion can take weeks or months to fully recover. All athletes should restrict their physical activity after a concussion. Cognitive exertion should also be monitored such as homework, video games, using the computer or watching television as they can escalate symptoms. If symptoms persist and your child is having short-term memory concerns your pediatrician or neurologist may refer you for neuropsychological testing.

There are several ways to reduce the risk of concussions by wearing the protective gear, following the rules of the sport, and educating players, staff and parents on the dangers of concussions. Better understanding of the symptoms will reduce the potential of long-term complications that could evolve from a concussion. If an athlete has had multiple concussions they should consider retiring from that sport.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Parent's feel their children's pain

When children experience heartache, disappointment, illness or life problems parents will feel the impact. The bond between parents and their children is a special relationship. Parents have a strong commitment to their children whether they are toddlers or adults. It has been reported that children who suffer for any reason will affect their parents’ mental health. Research has also found that parents are more affected by their children’s failures than by their successes.


A study from Purdue University surveyed 600 parents between ages 40 and 60 who lived in the Philadelphia area. There were 1250 children involved in the study over the age of 18 years old. The survey reported that parents who had a struggling child would monopolize attention over the success and happiness of the other siblings. If the children’s concerns were related to behaviors or lifestyle choices the emotional duress appeared to be more intense. Karen Fingerman, Ph.D. the lead author of the study said, “What this study finds is that children may have their own lives and moved on, but their ups and downs are still deeply affecting their parents.” The study was completed before the economic hardships began in
2008. The increase in job loss, family strain, foreclosures, and divorce has only exacerbated the parental distress.

Developing resilience

Easy going temperaments make it easier to bounce back from traumatic events but we can all learn how to become more resilient and get back in the game. “There are many aspects of resilience that can be taught,” states Karen Reivich Ph.D. a psychologist at University of Pennsylvania. “We spend a lot of mental energy making problems much bigger than they really are,” Reivich said.

One way to change negative thought patterns is to make a list of what you’re thankful for, your strengths, or what your talents are. “When you think about what you do best, you can more easily access those strengths when you are facing a challenge,” Reivich suggests.
Another option to try when facing adversity is to focus on what you can change so that you don’t get stuck ruminating on the problem. This allows you to move forward from the issue. You should have several options available to explore or pursue as you determine what choice may be the most beneficial. Accept the challenge and acknowledge that change can open new doors of opportunity.

Parents can model resilience by focusing on the positive, building outside interests and spending time with their support system. Increase your self-care when under emotional duress and seek professional counseling when needed. Disregard the need to “fix” your children. Resilient people know they have the power to adjust their plans and still feel secure on their new life’s journey path. “Life is a succession of lessons which must be lived to be understood.” Ralph Waldo Emerson