When it comes to young athletes and concussions, “when in doubt, sit them out”

2014-12-08 11:41:41 by Public Relations staff, as posted on the inside.akronchildrens.org blog.

Andrew Krotky Andrew Krotky

After going helmet to helmet with another player during the first quarter of a middle school football game, 13-year-old Andrew Krotky went face down.

“Everything happened so quickly,” said his mother, Tammi. “At first, I thought he was okay. But one of the coaches was concerned that Andrew couldn’t remember how he got from being face down to being upright.”

Tammi drove her son to the ER at Akron Children’s Beeghly campus for evaluation. Doctors there determined that Andrew had a concussion and required a brace to treat his neck pain, which also resulted from the impact.

“The signs of a concussion are so subtle it can be easy to miss – even for the athlete,” said Dr. Christopher Liebig, a sports medicine specialist for Akron Children’s. “When evaluating for concussions, we have 22 symptoms that we consider. In general, though, if a child is complaining of dizziness, fogginess or seeing stars, or lapses in memory, those are tell-tale signs of concussion.”

If concussions go undiagnosed – and untreated – some athletes experience symptoms days later, such as an unremitting headache and inability to think clearly. In extreme and rare cases, severe complications may occur, such as brain swelling that can lead to death.


Tips for concussion recovery

Dr. Christopher Liebig assesses a concussion patient Dr. Christopher Liebig assesses a concussion patient

“It’s better to give kids time to recover from their injury instead of pushing them to start too soon. Their recovery can be prolonged by going back to playing before their body is ready,” said Dr. Liebig. “The best advice for coaches and parents is ‘when in doubt, sit them out.’”

Often recovery involves 2 things for young athletes:



  • Mental rest – Letting the child rest from mentally straining activities. For example, the child may attend school but not complete assignments and/or tests until it’s determined he’s recovered. Or, he might need to stay home from school for a few days.

  • Physical rest – To help lower the risk of a secondary injury, limiting physical activity and then gradually easing back into training.


“What I try to explain to parents and athletes is that a concussion is like a strained brain,” said Dr. Liebig. “You wouldn’t tell someone with a sprained ankle to just keep walking on it. Similarly, it takes time for the brain to heal and if you continually try to use it, it’ll keep hurting and it’ll take longer to heal.”

Dr. Liebig with patientFor Andrew, treatment involved going back to school but not participating in activities like gym and band. His teachers also worked with him to postpone tests and assignments to give him time to recover.

He and his mother also decided, along with his treatment team, that he should sit out the rest of the football season.

“He’s feeling great now,” said Tammi. “He’s back in band and doing gym. And he’s even planning on playing football again next year.”


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