Fall concussion season here in Central Texas generally runs through December. As football and soccer are both highly competitive right now, there’s always the risk that children and teenagers playing these sports may suffer from a concussion in the next few months.
Child Neurology Consultants’ sports neurologist and concussion expert Dr. Kate Labiner recently spoke about the importance of recognizing the mental effects–in addition to the physical ones– following a concussion in Verywell Family.
“The biggest things to watch for are changes that seem out of character for [your] child,” says Dr. Labiner.
One way that kids may present signs of mental health issues following a concussion is by either internalizing or externalizing their behaviors.
Here’s what that means…
Internal behaviors following a concussion can be hard to spot. They are sentiments and/or actions that kids tend to keep bottled up to themselves or that could potentially affect just their own well-being.
Examples of internalizing behaviors that might indicate something more serious include:
Sleeping more or less than usual
Changes in appetite, or refusing to eat/drink
Avoiding favorite activities
Socially isolating from family and friends
Ongoing pain such as chronic headaches or stomach aches
External behaviors that are troublesome during concussion recovery will be more obvious. These might look like frequent outbursts towards others or constant irritability.
Externalizing behaviors that are important to watch for include:
Regular loss of temper
Excessive verbal or physical aggression
Inability to control emotional outbursts
Worsening preexisting conditions, such as ADHD
If any of these behaviors persist in your child beyond the first two weeks following a concussion, they may lead to the development of serious mental health conditions like depression, anxiety, or traumatic stress disorders.
Dr. Labiner says that it is imperative that you speak to your physician right away if you notice any of these internal or external behaviors. Experts agree that prevention is the key to ensuring that none of these mental health effects take a turn for the worse.
Ways that you can help to minimize the risk of serious mental health implications following your child’s concussion include:
Sticking closely to your physician’s protocol for their recovery
Making sure they get enough rest
Finding ways they can still connect with friends outside of school and sports, as we know that social interactions are highly beneficial to children and teens’ overall well-being
Child Neurology Consultants of Austin has experience treating a wide range of neurological conditions in children and teenagers from 0 to 21 years old and offers expedited concussion treatment and services specifically for these types of sports-related injuries.
To make an appointment with one of our board-certified pediatric neurologists, please contact us here.