Adventures in Concussions

Our Little Gymnast flew off our trampoline 2 weeks ago and suffered a concussion. It has taken me two weeks to ask the right questions in order to get the full story from the girls. She was doing a back flip landed on her bottom on the trampoline and then flew off backward. She landed on her back and then her head hit the ground. However, I didn’t think she was hurt at all at the time. Her sister and her were outside jumping while I was cooking dinner. This is something the do all day long. Little Bit comes running in telling me her sister fell off the trampoline. Her sister was right behind her and then laid on my kitchen bench. I asked what had happened and how she felt. She was doing a back flip, something she’s done 1,000 times on our tramp and really the only way she jumps. It was about like this. The details of exactly what happened didn’t become clear to me until the last day or two. She said nothing really hurt, she didn’t feel dizzy or nauseous and she wasn’t crying. I instructed her to lay down for a bit. I didn’t hear another complaint about it until 8 days later.

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So she returned to normal activity the very next day. And three days later she returned to gymnastics practice and again the following week. After her second practice she told me she was dizzy and nauseous. I thought maybe she was dehydrated or hadn’t eaten enough that day, I didn’t think it could be related to the fall since it had been a week. But the next day she couldn’t move off the sofa she felt so bad. I made an appointment for her at our doctor’s office the next day.

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The doctor didn’t think it was related to the fall since she didn’t pass out and didn’t throw up. He said it was a virus and it was causing the labrynthitis. She’d be better in a few days. She was already felling better on Thurs. than the day before when she didn’t leave my couch. So I made her rest a bit that weekend to help her fight the virus. On Monday she was back on the trampoline and getting dizzy again. Tuesday she wanted to try to practice, she made through her running and two back walkovers and then was very dizzy. We left the gym and she returned to the couch the next day unable to get rid of the dizzy feeling. I called our gymnastics team trainer to have him look at her figuring now that this had to be from the fall. And when he started asking us questions I realized I didn’t know what exactly had happened and I didn’t know what symptoms to look for to assess whether she was okay. According to our trainer very few people experience vomiting from a concussion and everyone experiences it differently. He also told us that a concussion won’t show on CT scan or MRI. You have to assess the symptoms and do a neurological evaluation. We were referred to see the head of our local Childrens Sports Medicine Concussion team.

So what symptoms had I missed. You might need to know this. Well upon asking the girls more questions the Little Gymnast appears to have blacked out. Little Bit said that her eyes were closed for about 10 seconds or less. Little Bit was calling to her asking if she was okay but she couldn’t respond. The details of what happened after the fall are also foggy to the Gymnast. She thinks her Dad was home when it happened, he wasn’t and she doesn’t remember laying on the bench in the kitchen. The next morning she was extremely grouchy and I punished her for 2 weeks from playing with friends. Something I haven’t ever had to do. The morning irritability lasted for about a week. Any morning that Little Bit made too much noise exiting the room the Gymnast would yell at her about waking her. This is very uncharacteristic as she is usually bright eyed and ready to go in the morning. The Gymnast failed to tell me she was dizzy and nauseous after that first gymnastics practice she did.

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As you can see, the girls live on the tramp. If they are outside they are on it. If she isn’t on the tramp you can find her scaling play structures, trying to climb trees or running around on all fours like a horse. She’s not the sit still and smell the roses type. She wants to roll in them and run amongst them.

The Pediatric Concussion Specialist asked as about her symptoms and about the fall, did a balance test with her and a neurologic assessment. He concurred with our trainer that she indeed has a concussion and will take longer to heal since she’s been active over the last 16 days. So how does one heal. By using as little brain energy as possible. She is to have no physical activity, no school work and avoid as much mental activity as possible. She may only have 20 minutes of activity at a time. She is allowed screen time for 20 minutes only, she can color, paint, craft, listen to stories and play quietly imaginative things. No board games, no reading, and no card games. And she has to rest after the 20 minutes of activity before doing another 20 minutes. This is extremely hard, she’s 9 and she’s hyperactive. She has an insatiable need to move, jump, flip and run. It’s becoming a full time job keeping her down. The goal is for her brain to fully heal without permanent damage that could further impair her schooling or worse. We see the doctor in 3 weeks to assess where we are. Physical symptoms go away first but neurologic symptoms persist for longer. She will have to be cleared on both before returning to any physical or mental activity.

Please pray that she recovers quickly with no permanent damage. And that God would bestow His full grace on her to help her be still to heal.

I’m grateful for the team of caring professionals that are helping us navigate this. If you’d like to know more about concussions there are some excellent videos here.

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