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ISEH Professor Mike Loosemore MBE, discusses children’s concussion in this blog and shares important information for parents/guardians to be aware of if they suspect that their child may be suffering from a concussion; revealing the signs and symptoms to look out for and when medical advice should be sought.

Professor Mike Loosemore, MBE, Lead Consultant in Sport and Exercise Medicine, shares:

I am writing this blog post because I am keen to help parents and children understand the signs and symptoms of concussion in children and young people. Why do I think this is important? I think it is important because concussion is underreported in children. The reason this is of concern to me is that concussion in children can lead to underperformance in school and anxiety at home whereas if concussion has been diagnosed, it can be assessed and treated appropriately. There is also the possibility of developing post concussive syndrome – because concussion is underreported and whilst we see this syndrome occasionally, we don’t know how many children actually suffer from it.

Causes of concussion in children vs. adults:

The causes of concussion in children are the same as in adults – it is caused by a transfer of energy to the brain either directly by a blow to the head or indirectly with, for example, a whiplash injury. You do not have to be knocked unconscious to suffer concussion – in fact, most people who are diagnosed as concussed have not been knocked out. Sometimes a seemingly innocuous blow can cause symptoms. Children seem to be more susceptible to concussion. This could possibly be because their necks are not as strong as an adult’s. This means they are less able to control the rapid movement of the head when suffering a blow.

Concussion symptoms:

Concussion itself is a cluster of signs and symptoms including headache, inability to concentrate, sensitivity to light and sound, feeling in a fog, not being able to sleep, poor balance and memory loss of the incident. Not everyone who is concussed will experience all of these symptoms which is why people, particularly children, need an expert assessment. 

Concussion in sport:

When it comes to concussion in sport, it is more common in contact sports, but it can occur in any sport. In my personal experience, I have seen many concussions from rugby, but I have also seen them in ice skaters and even in a badminton player.  It is really about making sure that if your child has had a blow to the head and is behaving unusually, that you get them assessed straight away. In my clinic, I usually only see people if the concussion symptoms have gone on longer than two weeks as over 90% of concussion symptoms settle down without intervention. 

Symptoms of concussion in young children:

When it comes to very young children, it’s very hard to assess because what you are looking for are symptoms. Thus, if the child is unable to express themselves, it’s very difficult to diagnose.  In those cases, I will ask the parents or caregivers about changes in behaviour. If a parent or caregiver feels their child is behaving differently since a recent blow to the head, I would strongly recommend they see their doctor as soon as possible. 

Often when a child is concussed, they become very sleepy. If a parent has any cause for concern, they should take their child to Accident and Emergency (A&E). However, if they have been assessed and sent home, they should follow the advice or guidance given at the hospital which could be to let the child sleep but wake them regularly to check on them. Most symptoms are mild, can be managed at home and most of the time, recovery is spontaneous. 

What to expect during a consultation with Professor Mike Loosemore MBE:

If you come to see me at ISEH for a concussion appointment the first thing I will do is to take a full medical history. Then we will conduct some tests involving memory, concentration and balance. Finally, we will do a neurological examination and scan the brain and/or neck if it is appropriate. Once all that is complete, we then discuss the results and decide what an appropriate treatment could be. I try to avoid medication particularly when it comes to children. I can give general advice on exercise and the balance between exercise and rest. I can also prescribe specific exercises to reset the visual and balance pathways. After that, you will be reassessed a a later date and we will continue to look after you until the condition is resolved. 

In conclusion, if you have any concerns about your child following a blow to the head, I would advise you to seek immediate medical attention. If after that, the symptoms of concussion persist, we’d be more than happy to see you at ISEH at our Concussion Clinic.

Make an appointment

Professor Mike Loosemore MBE sees both private and NHS patients at The Institute of Sport Exercise and Health's (ISEH) location in Central London and has vast expertise managing adults and children with concussion. To enquire about a private appointment, please contact Professor Mike Loosemore's medical secretary by calling 07949944433 or emailing Natalie@drmichaelloosemore.com. For appointments via the NHS, please contact your GP in the first instance.