Consumer Reports: Concussions 101

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Consumer Reports tells us what to look out for and what to do if your child gets hurt. (WLS)

There are so many benefits associated with kids playing sports, but as the spring season gets under way, parents also need to be aware of the dangers of concussions. Concussions are a common type of sports injury, and while they are usually not life-threatening, they can still be serious. Consumer Reports tells us what to look out for and what to do if your child gets hurt.

Emily Penner, 15, is thrilled to be playing basketball again.

Emily got a serious concussion during a practice in February of 2016, and she went through months of physical therapy before fully regaining her balance.

Her mother still gets emotional thinking about the long and difficult road to recovery.

"As a mom, you just, you want to do everything for your child, but there is nothing you can do. There's really nothing you can do to help," Diane Penner said.

Parents may feel helpless, but Consumer Reports says there are some things you can do, starting with prevention.

"Talk to the coach. You know, have a conversation about player safety. You know, ask what coaches are doing, ask what they're thinking about concussion prevention," said Consumer Reports Health Editor Diane Umansky.

Neurologist and Consumer Reports Medical Director Orly Avitzur says it's important to take any blow to the head seriously.

"If you think your child has had a concussion, pull them out of the game. You don't want them to return to play on the same day as a concussion, even if you think their symptoms have resolved," Avitzur said.

Symptoms can come about quickly, or be delayed a day or two. Look out for things like nausea, headache, confusion, dizziness and memory problems.

After a lot of rest and rehabilitation, Emily has fully recovered. But treatment depends on the extent of the injury. And while most symptoms resolve within a week or two, as Emily discovered, don't be surprised if they linger.

You should be sure your child has medical clearance to go back to sports, after a concussion. While healing, rest is important, but current thinking suggests it's also okay to have some gentle physical activity, such as walking, in the first few days after a concussion, if your child is up to it. Getting up and around a bit may actually promote quicker healing.

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