I wanted to share a story today about the importance of youth sports concussion awareness and how a Level I pediatric trauma center can make a difference in the care a child receives. Treatment at a trauma center improves the chance of survival from a life-threatening injury by 25 percent, and it greatly improves outcomes for kids with other serious injuries.
Katie is a 14 year old girl who has been playing soccer for about 10 years. During soccer practice, she took a line drive to the head. She complained of a headache and sensitivity to light later that evening, and had one episode of vomiting. She returned to play the next day and had a head-to-head collision with another player during a game.
Later that evening, she was taken to Wake Forest Baptist’s Brenner Children’s Hospital Pediatric Emergency Department with complaints of headaches, vomiting and some lethargy. She was admitted for observation and she was discharged the next day with instructions and some educational material. During her assessment, she commented that she was taught to win at any cost. In her opinion, instead of coming out of the game, she needed to play. She received follow up care from a pediatric neurologist. Katie reported that she had some trouble with headaches and keeping up in school for about three months.
Youth soccer players can protect their heads by avoiding heading the ball. The CDC Heads Up initiative provides info for parents, coaches and kids about how to recognize a concussion, the importance of reporting those signs of concussion to prevent repeated injuries, and following return to play protocol. They need to know it’s okay for them to come out of a game and tell their parents or coaches they’re not feeling right. Players need to support each other peer-to-peer. As they say, “it’s better to miss one game than the whole season,” and “when in doubt, sit it out.”
According to one of the nation’s leading experts on concussions in youth sports, Dr. Robert Cantu, “the statistics are that, yes, football has more concussion than does soccer. But soccer falls right behind it. And girls’ soccer is ahead of boys’ soccer.” Dr. Cantu is the chief of neurosurgery at Emerson Hospital and co-director of Boston University’s Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopath.
When kids are injured, the right treatment makes a difference. When kids are treated at the pediatric ED, they get pediatric specific care. For instance, Katie had to have a CT scan, which was read by pediatric radiologists. The pediatric patients are not just small adult. They are still growing, changing and developing, so a 5-year-old’s CT scan does not look like a 10-year-old’s CT scan. They are much different than an adult and need special care. Pediatric specialists know the difference and can make a big impact in the care injured kids receive.
A Level I pediatric trauma center provides specialty pediatric care 24 hours a day, including pediatric-specific trauma surgeons, neurosurgeons and neurologists. Each stage of a child’s life is in transition and within those transitions you have a specialist that knows how to treat each one of those patients.
– Nicole Reavis, Performance Improvement Coordinator, Pediatric Trauma Program at Wake Forest Baptist Health’s Brenner Children’s Hospital
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