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Pediatric Concussions: How To Treat Them and is There a Role for Hyperbaric Oxygen?

November 09, 2022 // 5 min read Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy
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Your 12 year old child is up to bat.  He is being cheered on by the crowd. He steps into the batters box and prepares for the at bat.  He's ready. The pitch is thrown and he connects with a line drive to center field.  He rounds first base then second.  The slide begins.  To avoid the tag he lurches backward and strikes his head on the ground.  He laid still for a few seconds, then appeared dazed.  His coach ran over to check on him.  He say's he is fine...

But is he? What just happened?

Did he suffer a pediatric concussion?

Concussion

A concussion is a type of brain injury that can occur when the head, neck, or spine are moved rapidly. Pediatric concussions can range in severity from mild to severe, and can cause a variety of symptoms including headache, dizziness, nausea, confusion, and fatigue.

If your child may have suffered a concussion, it is important to take him to see a healthcare professional as soon as possible. The healthcare professional will determine the severity of the concussion and will recommend appropriate treatment. Commonly prescribed treatments for pediatric concussions include rest, medication, and now more commonly  - hyperbaric oxygen therapy. 

An exciting new research study has recently been published showing that hyperbaric oxygen therapy in children with post-concussion syndrome improves cognitive and behavioral function 

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Concussions are different in pediatric population

Concussion in children is fairly common and often undiagnosed.   Fried recently reported this in the paper: Persistent post-concussive syndrome in children after mild traumatic brain injury is prevalent and vastly under diagnosed.

It is important to prevent further concussions after any concussion. You must be aware of the signs and symptoms of a concussion and keep an eye on your child during any physical activity.

It is important to seek medical attention if your child experiences any of these symptoms after a head injury, as a concussion can have serious long-term effects.

In children, the brain still undergoes rapid growth and development. This can lead to more severe concussions than in adults. Additionally, the frontal lobe - responsible for cognitive function - is still developing in children. This can make pediatric concussions more difficult to treat.

Specialized tests can be performed on your child to check for a concussion:

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  1. Balance tests for concussion such as BESS (Balance Error Scoring System)
  2. Vision tests: checking for vision impairment, including double vision, strabismus (inward or outward deviation of the eyes), and amblyopia (lazy eye)
  3. Neuro-cognitive tests: assessing memory, attention, and problem-solving skills
  4. A CT scan or MRI scan of your child's brain.
  5. Concussion symptom assessment tool: a comprehensive review of the symptoms of concussion, including headache, confusion, dizziness/vibration, sleep problems, and mood changes.

If your child has a confirmed concussion, he or she will need to follow the guidelines outlined by their healthcare professional for recovery.

Although there is still much to learn about the long-term effects of pediatric concussions, taking proper care of your child is essential in avoiding further injury.

So what does all this mean for parents?

It means that it is important to be aware of the symptoms of a concussion and to seek medical attention if your child experiences them. It is also important to keep an eye on your child during any physical activity, and to prevent further concussions by being aware of the signs and symptoms of a concussion and following guidelines for safe play.

The brain can be damaged in many ways, including bleeding and swelling.

Symptoms of a pediatric concussion may include:

  • confusion
  • dizziness
  • headache
  • vomiting
  • lightheadedness.

If your child experiences any of these symptoms after a traumatic event - such as a fall or sports collision - it's important to seek medical attention immediately.

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How can I treat my child's concussion?

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to concussion care, as the best treatment will vary depending on the severity of the injury and your child's individual symptoms. You may need to keep your child home from school for a day or two and limit activities until his symptoms have resolved. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) may be beneficial in some cases, and prescribed medications such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen may be helpful in relieving symptoms.

It is important to keep your child safe after a head injury, and take steps to prevent future concussions. If you or your child experiences any of the following signs or symptoms after a head injury, please seek medical attention: persistent headache, dizziness, vomiting, lightheadedness, confusion, seizures, coma.

There is currently no cure for pediatric concussions, but there are treatments available that can help your child recover more quickly.

is HBOT Covered by Insurance (1)

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is a medical procedure that uses oxygen delivered in a high pressure environment  to help treat injuries and illnesses. It has been shown to help improve recovery time after a pediatric concussion, as well as reduce the risk of further brain damage.

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Hyperbaric oxygen therapy has several benefits, which include:
  • Reducing inflammation
  • Improving blood flow
  • Reducing edema (swelling)
  • Promoting healing of damaged tissues
  • Positively impacting mood and cognitive function

Hadanny recently reported that Hyperbaric oxygen therapy in children with post-concussion syndrome improves cognitive and behavioral function.  

 
What if my child's doctors does not suggest or recommend hyperbaric oxygen therapy? 

You can show your doctor some of the recent studies published on the benefits of HBOT for pediatric concussions, as they simply might not be up to date on the latest research:

  1. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy in children with post-concussion syndrome improves cognitive and behavioral function

If you have any questions about pediatric concussions, or would like to discuss treatment options with a healthcare professional, please feel free to contact us for more information or schedule a consultation

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Alan Katz, MD, FUHM, FACEP, FAAEM

Written by Alan Katz, MD, FUHM, FACEP, FAAEM

Dr. Alan Katz, National Medical Director of Hyperbaric Medical Solutions (HMS), is double board certified in Emergency Medicine and Hyperbaric Medicine. He directs clinical operations, as well as education and research initiatives for HMS, particularly in exploring the use of hyperbaric oxygen therapy....

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