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A team of concussion experts from The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) have created engaging infographics that can be shared with youth and families to increase awareness about the importance of recognizing concussions in children and youth and supporting them during recovery. The series is called “Minds Matter: The Truth on Concussions.”
“It’s not easy to explain how concussions happen, how they are diagnosed, how they are treated or how people recover from this common brain injury,” says Suzanne Hill, program director of outreach and advocacy for CIRP@CHOP. “Thus, we formed a cross-disciplinary team of concussion specialists, researchers and health communicators to develop Web content and download-ready infographics and posters that break down concussion into relatable terms and engaging graphics for youth and parents.”
Over the course of six infographics, the brain is compared to a computer processing chip, and treatment with brain rest is described as channeling an energy drink to injured brain cells and away from other energy-consuming activities. The timeline for recovery is likened to a Candy Land-type board game and the common myths about concussion are debunked in Myth Busters. Youth are encouraged to “Speak the Truth” about their symptoms and to understand that, while concussion may not have many visible signs of injury, it has very real symptoms and should be taken seriously. Those symptoms are described as falling into one of four categories: physical, sleep, thinking/remembering, and mood disruption.
What is a concussion? A concussion is a mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) caused by a blow or jolt to the head or body that causes the brain to move within the skull. This movement can cause the brain to not work normally and lead to the symptoms described above. Some of the symptoms of a concussion can appear immediately after the injury, while others may not show up for several days. Symptoms may last days, weeks or months. Sometimes symptoms may be subtle and not obvious. Concussions can occur even when a child does not lose consciousness. In fact, only 10 percent of children with concussions report being “knocked out.” Each year, thousands of children and youth are diagnosed with concussion — only half are sports related.
A few facts about concussion from the infographics
- The brain is like an integrated circuit board of memory and processing. On impact the brain moves inside the skull. The circuits stretch or break, causing the brain to not function normally.
- Concussions can still happen when wearing a helmet.
- Children, especially adolescents and young teenagers, may require longer recovery times and a more careful treatment than adults.
- Right after a concussion, the brain needs extra fuel to repair injured brain cells. Meanwhile, the blood flow that delivers fuel to the brain actually decreases. Avoiding activities that require brain and physical energy during initial phase of injury helps you to deliver the extra fuel to the injured brain and maximize recovery.
- There is no gain from pain. You can delay recovery substantially or even cause longer-term consequences by continuing to play your sport after a concussion.
- Every concussion is unique and the road to recovery can take days or weeks. Mental and physical rest immediately following the injury will maximize recovery.