Spring is almost here, and soon spring sports such as soccer, baseball and softball are going to be in full swing for our kids.
And while we encourage participation in outdoor activities and sports, it is good to be aware of the possible injuries and what to look out for. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, emergency department visits for sports related traumatic brain injury (TBI) and concussions have increased by 60% for children and teens in the last ten years. The most common activities that can cause injury are bicycling, football, playground, basketball and soccer. With this increase, there is also an increased awareness of safety in sports and signs and symptoms related to a TBI that can occur during play. This allows for steps to be taken to improve safety and reduce risk for our kids.
A TBI can occur if a person receives a blow to the head or a jolt to the body the causes quick head movement. Some signs and symptoms of TBI include:
- memory and concentration loss
- clumsy movement
- change in mood, behavior, or personality
- double or blurry vision
- light and noise sensitivity
Once and injury like this has occurred, symptoms can last up to months and it is important to not go back to sports too quickly as the brain needs time to heal.
Optometrist’s role in treatment
Optometrists can play a large roll in the healing process from a TBI.
Because the brain nerves related to vision go everywhere in the brain, almost all TBI patients have some effect to their vision system and visual function in some way. Issues such as memory and concentration loss, dizziness, double and blurry vision and light sensitivity can affect more than just sports performance. These problems can also affect academic performance even in a child who was succeeding academically prior to the injury. Neurorehabilitative Optometry can address these problems and help improve brain and visual function though the use of specialized vision therapy techniques, specialized glasses and prisms.
If you suspect that a lingering brain injury is affecting your child’s academic performance, an evaluation by a California Optometric Association optometrist can help determine what can be done to help and refer you the appropriate optometrist specialist that can assess and treat the visual problems associated with the head injury.
Play Hard and Be Safe!
CDC resources for parents and coaches on TBI and concussions can be found here.