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A Bonk To The Head

So, an interesting situation in our house. On Friday, we were swimming, en famille, at a cousin’s place when Nora, our five year old, leaped off the diving board. Julie, her mom, was floating in the deep end to catch her and help her swim to the side. Nora overshot her target, and her chin came down hard on the side of Julie’s head. Nora was okay; Julie was not. She was diagnosed with a mild concussion, and has been somewhat disabled since then. Her mind feels foggy, and she’s frustrated, and a little freaked out, by having to think about how to put together certain sentences.

She’ll be fine after a couple more days, but still, this has been a learning experience for us both.

“If this is what you get from a mild concussion, I hate to think about what a serious concussion does to you,” she tells me. “By the way, Lucas is not going to be playing football.”

OK by me. I once had a more serious concussion when a psychotic older boy jumped me from behind in middle school, and knocked me out cold. The school never called my parents, nor took me to the doctor. My mother found me on the sofa that afternoon, babbling out of my head. Doctors diagnosed a concussion. My 15 year old attacker eventually was sent to some sort of state home after he was discovered to be an arsonist. Anyway, yes, it’s freaky to observe how fragile our brains are. You kids be careful out there.

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14 Comments To "A Bonk To The Head"

#1 Comment By Curmudgeon Geographer On June 26, 2012 @ 12:25 am

There has been some fringe discussion that the modern diet has contributed to increased “fragility”.

MSG and artificial sweeteners for instance having neurological damage, diets reduced in omega-3 DHA fats, reducing cholesterol (25% of a human’s cholesterol is in the brain), and more.

#2 Comment By L617 On June 26, 2012 @ 6:09 am

Ouch! I hope she makes a speedy recovery!

#3 Comment By BenSix On June 26, 2012 @ 7:45 am

The cumulative effects of concussions can be debilitating. It’s among the reasons why so many professional sportsmen, especially in boxing but also in American football and amateur or pro wrestling, sound progressively drunker as they age. There’s even a term for the phenomenon: [1].

#4 Comment By John E_o On June 26, 2012 @ 8:03 am

Along those lines – wear helmets when bicycling.

#5 Comment By Hunk Hondo(C.H. Ross) On June 26, 2012 @ 8:07 am

Wow. Please get better soon, Julie. And Rod–monitor her carefully for after-symptons.

#6 Comment By Andrea On June 26, 2012 @ 9:23 am

I hope she feels better soon. Head injuries are dangerous even when there aren’t any symptoms. I’ve heard too many stories about people dying of a brain hemorrhage hours after what seemed like a minor bump on the head.

After hearing those stories, I no longer think my fourth grade teacher was overreacting when she sent me to the local hospital by ambulance after I got into a spat with a classmate and he threw me down on a cement floor, even though I wasn’t really hurt. Better safe than sorry.

#7 Comment By MH – Secular Misanthropist On June 26, 2012 @ 9:37 am

I hope Julie feels better soon.

I’m not surprised to hear that jawbone wins versus the skull. When I had my wisdom teeth out the top pair were much easier to extract than the bottom. The oral surgeon told me this wasn’t unusual as the jawbone is much harder than the skull.

#8 Comment By Mary Russell On June 26, 2012 @ 9:58 am

Sorry to hear about Julie. Concussions are pretty common, though, and people almost always make a full and easy recovery. Contra alarmists above, a head injury not involving loss of consciousness is not a reason for a trip to the ER by ambulance, nor is it necessarily something that has to be evaluated in the ER. People who have suffered a head injury need to be put n “brain rest” for a few days (or weeks, depending on the severity of the injury) afterwards, though-they need more
sleep and generally need to avoid mentally taxing tasks.

#9 Comment By Nate On June 26, 2012 @ 10:17 am

I hope she feels better soon! And yes, monitor the situation closely (as of course you are). Don’t mess around with head injuries.

And you are so right: my kids ain’t playing no football.

Stick to baseball, as Christ intended.

#10 Comment By Erin Manning On June 26, 2012 @ 11:57 am

Oh, so sorry to hear this! No fun. Hope she feels better soon!

Moms should get danger pay during the preschool years. And sometimes beyond…

#11 Comment By Naturalmom On June 26, 2012 @ 4:55 pm

I got a mild concussion a couple of years ago with similar symptoms. It is disconcerting. I’m still letting my kid play football though, as long as the program integrates what is now known about caring for any injury that might occur. (And I’ll be watching to be sure they do!) Every thing has risk, and he loves it so much. I would worry more if he were bound to play for a large high school program or college, but small town mid-west high school is likely as far as he’ll get.

Besides, if you allow no risk for concussion, what activity *can* you allow your child?
Soccer? Nope — headers and the possibility of knocking heads with another player. Baseball? Doesn’t happen often, but getting hit in the head with a baseball can be fatal, let alone concussion-producing. Head-knocks at the base can happen too. Basketball? Knees are more at risk there, but heads sometimes bang the floor or other heads.
Skateboarding or BMX biking? Um, no. Tennis might be safe.
Cheerleading and Gymnastics? Broken necks are worse than bonked heads, and heads get bonked anyway if you fall or are dropped, which happens not infrequently.
Running is probably safe for your head.
Climbing trees? No way.
Swimming? Besides Julie’s experience above, you can hit your head on the side of the pool pretty hard if you aren’t careful. But drowning is the real risk — #2 cause of accidental death among children after car accidents, and #1 *by far* if you take into account frequency of exposure. That doesn’t even count the number of near-drownings that leave children permanently brain injured. And most of those incidents occur with plenty of people around, by the way. Drowning is silent and quick most of the time.

And finally what is the risk of not doing *any* risky but fun physical activity? Obesity, type 2 diabetes, poor heart health, etc, etc. Good luck getting kids to do aerobics for their physical exercise.

I think you see my point. Sometimes risky things are worth doing anyway. Which is not to say everyone *should* play football or baseball or whatnot, but I get sick of the implied judgement I see in comment sections like this. In addition to football, I still let my kids swim, and I’m glad you do too, Rod.

#12 Comment By Mitchell Young On June 26, 2012 @ 5:35 pm

Ask an former (pool) lifeguard, I have to chide you about letting a kid jump into the deep end when he or she can’t swim, and lining yourself up as a target for a jump from a diving board. From the deck is marginal, but a body has much more kinetic energy falling from 4 ft. versus 1.

That said, hope she gets better soon, and glad the child is okay.

#13 Comment By kevo On June 26, 2012 @ 8:41 pm

Reminds me of an episode at a water park. A year or so after getting married. I went down a very tame water slide with lots of kids using it. Apparently bumped my head on the way down. I met my wife at the bottom where I said something like “I don’t feel so good…”. That is the last I remember for about 4 hours. Apparently I was talking coherently in my 2nd language (that of my wife), but could not remember that we were married, nor anything else in the preceding 2 years or so. I’m told I was taken by ambulance to the nearest clinic and given some sort of injection. I suddenly “came to” walking with my wife back to our hotel about 4 hours later. I felt myself “coming back” too. Very weird. No obvious bumps on the head or anything.

#14 Comment By Monterey On June 26, 2012 @ 10:12 pm

My sister last month got a nasty concussion after being knocked off her bicycle by a car suddenly pulling out from the side of the road during a group ride. It was NOT fun. Every time she moved position the following week, she’d get dizzy. And she threw up a lot that day, too, while in the hospital. Bad concussions are decidedly not fun. Sorry Julie had a run-in with even a mild version of it.