May 16, 2016

Announcer: Health tips, medical views, research and more for a happier, healthier life. From University of Utah Health Sciences, this is The Scope.

Interviewer: If you're like me and you hear concussion and kids, you tend to think of during sporting events like football or soccer or hockey something of that nature. But a recent news story said more children are suffering traumatic brain injuries at the playground, according to some research from the National Center for Injury Prevention And Control. So there are a couple of questions as to what is actually going on here. Are more kids actually hurting themselves? Or are we just more aware of brain injury now with all the focus on concussion and that sort of thing?

Dr. Greg Hawryluk is a neurosurgeon at the University of Utah Health Care. He's also a concussion expert and we want to get the physician's take from Dr. Hawryluk. Find out what might be causing this and what parents should be taking away from this story.

Dr. Hawryluk: Yeah, my take is that playground equipment has become so much safer in recent years that I have a hard time believing that the kids are hurting themselves more. I think it's just increased vigilance and I think it's actually quite appropriate because as you and I have talked in the past, it's really is the standard now for people with a concussion to see a doctor. And I think this reflects that. If anything, I think there is a lot of concern amongst physicians right now that people are too concerned about this. In some senses, this is probably a step in the right direction, but we also don't want people overreacting.

Interviewer: How do I know, as a parent, if my child says they hurt themselves at the playground that I should actually do something about it? Take them to the E.R., take them to see a physician?

Dr. Hawryluk: Yeah, the big thing is it's tricky in children. That's the problem. They aren't always good about communicating. Really, I think the parent has to have a pretty high index of suspicion about their child. They need to notice is their child is behaving differently than usual. It's important to ask the child, did they get knocked out? Were they seeing stars? Have they got a bad headache? Have they been confused? All the certain things that we would look for in an adult, they can be a little hard to find in a kid. Parents, I think, can often find these things and I think it's important to err on the side of caution.
Interviewer: That's if you have the belief that the child did have a concussion, you should go see a doctor so they can go through the appropriate recovery process.

Dr. Hawryluk: That's right.
Interviewer: Otherwise, not showing the symptoms, likely not a problem?

Dr. Hawryluk: That's right. That's right.

Interviewer: Okay. I'm really sorry for trying to nail you down to black and white. I'm thinking of myself as a parent and how do I make even make that decision? I don't want to run the kid in just because they ran into the swing, but they seem to be fine.
Dr. Hawryluk: Yeah. In fact, even if look at my own family, a lot of my relatives, I would probably argue, are over-concerned about a minor bump to the head. That's really the thing. If they aren't having symptoms, then generally, you don't have to worry.

Interviewer: If you go to and search for "concussions," we've got a lot of other great concussion content including what the six-step recovery process from concussions that doctors use is and why it's so important that you adhere to that. Plus, also, information on whether you should let your kids play contact sports and other topics around concussions. You can find all of that at Search for "concussions."

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