Las conmociones cerebrales múltiples son peligrosas para los jóvenes

Concussions are among the most widely reported injuries in young people who participate in sports and recreational activities. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has estimated there are as many as 3.8 million sports and recreation related concussions in the United States every year. [1]

Classified as traumatic brain injuries, concussions are caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head that causes the soft, gelatin-like substance of the brain to move rapidly back and forth inside the hard, bony skull. Concussions can change the way the brain normally works.

Although most of us associate concussions with “contact” sports like football, soccer, ice hockey, or basketball, they can occur in any sport or recreational activity.  A concussion can occur from a fall on the ground, tennis court, squash court, or even from falling against a wall or goal post.  Furthermore, you don’t have to be “knocked out” or lose consciousness to suffer a concussion.

Most young people make a good recovery from a single concussion that is recognized and treated appropriately. However, mounting evidence shows that repetitive head injuries can cause serious, permanent brain damage. Every year, children in the United States suffer serious injury or death as a result of a concussion in sports and recreational activities.

Youngsters who experience multiple concussions may take longer to recover after each concussion.  They may also endure prolonged post-concussion symptoms and suffer cognitive impairment.

Perhaps more alarming, however, is a medical condition seen only in children, Second Impact Syndrome (SIS).  Although rare, it may occur when a child sustains a second (perhaps minor) trauma to the head before he or she has recovered from a prior concussion.  This re-injury can lead to a series of medical events that causes rapid brain swelling, a dangerous and sometimes life-threatening condition.

Given the risks associated with cumulative concussions, coaches and parents must take the lead in protecting children from these injuries.  Coaches, athletes and parents all want their team to perform well, but the safety of the players must be the paramount concern.  Often it can be difficult to determine how soon after a blow to the head it is safe for a child to return to play.  The following guidelines, suggested by the CDC [2], can help.

  • Vigile a sus jugadores o niños en todo momento. Esté atento a golpes en la cabeza y caídas durante la práctica, los juegos y otras actividades; Busque de cerca los signos y síntomas de una conmoción cerebral después de estos eventos.
  • A coach should immediately remove from play an athlete who displays or reports the signs or symptoms of a concussion.  He should ensure the player is evaluated promptly by an appropriate health care professional. If the coach does not follow this protocol, a parent should intervene whenever possible. A coach has an obligation to inform the athlete’s parents or guardians about a possible concussion and to recommend prompt and proper medical care.
  • Keep in mind the athlete himself may not be a reliable source of information.  He may not want to report his symptoms for fear of being taken out of a game or letting his team down.
  • No permita que un joven que haya sufrido una conmoción cerebral regrese a ninguna actividad física o deporte hasta que un médico familiarizado con las pautas de la Academia Estadounidense de Neurología con respecto a la prevención de SIS y lesión cerebral acumulativa lo autorice.

Most concussion symptoms disappear within a week or so.  After multiple concussions, however, symptoms can persist for weeks or months. What general signs and symptoms should a parent look for?

  • Dolor de cabeza, que es un síntoma común.
  • Náuseas o vómitos
  • Mareos, problemas de equilibrio.
  • Sensibilidad a la luz o al ruido.
  • Fatiga, un cambio en los hábitos de sueño como dormir más o menos de lo habitual.
  • Irritabilidad
  • Incapacidad para concentrarse o recordar
  • A “foggy” feeling

The CDC suggests that, in addition to the above symptoms, a coach should be alert for subtle signs and symptoms in the minutes following an event that might cause a concussion:

  • El atleta parece aturdido o aturdido después de un golpe o una caída.
  • Parece confundido acerca de su asignación o posición en el juego.
  • Se olvida de las jugadas deportivas.
  • No está seguro de la puntuación, el juego o el oponente.
  • He moves clumsily or is unsteady on his feet.
  • Responde a las preguntas lentamente o con vacilación.
  • Pierde el conocimiento (aunque sea muy brevemente).
  • Exhibe cambios en su comportamiento o personalidad.
  • His memory is affected – he doesn’t remember events before or after a hit or fall.

The CDC is a helpful resource for parents and coaches who want to protect young athletes from the dangerous effects of cumulative [3] concussions.   Although many parents want their children to participate in sports for all the many benefits such participation brings, we all have a responsibility to help children do so safely.


[1] See CDC Archives 2009, at April 22, 2009, at https://www.cdc.gov/media/haveyouheard/2009.html.

[2] https://www.cdc.gov/headsup/

[3] For more information, see CDC website “Heads Up: Concussion in Youth Sports” at https://www.cdc.gov/concussion/HeadsUp/youth.html. See also other injury prevention topics at the CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention & Control website at https://www.cdc.gov/injury/.