Concussions: Why you should take them seriously

shutterstock_71138050Lately, when you hear the word “concussion” images of professional hockey players such as Sidney Crosby may enter your mind. Concussions have been receiving a lot of attention in the media, and with good reason. There has been discussion around ensuring that athletes do not return to their sport of choice too soon.

What is a concussion?

Concussions are caused by a bump, jolt or blow to the head. What many people do not realize is that there does not need to be a point of impact (i.e. between the head and another object). The force of the brain colliding with the inside of the skull due to a sudden change in direction can be the cause.

Many people have misinformation about what a concussion is and what it is not. The fact is, a concussion is a mild traumatic brain injury. The word “mild” can be quite misleading. Doctors use the word “mild” to describe the brain injury suffered because the injury is not life threatening. Don’t be misled – a concussion can be a very serious injury.

Concussions can happen in a variety of situations including car accidents; falls; playing a sport; and assaults. While many people associate them with certain sports such as boxing, and due to the expansive amount of media attention, with hockey and football; a concussion can occur when playing any sport including soccer, cheerleading, gymnastics, wrestling, and so on and so on…

What can go wrong?

Many people recover quickly from a concussion but some do not. For some, recovery can take days, weeks, months or longer. Multiple concussions can lead to a longer recovery time.

The real-life impact is sometimes not realized right away. It can take time for an individual to realize what difficulties they are faced with. The difficulties can include trouble with a host of cognitive skills.

Concussions can affect a person’s thinking/remembering; physical function; emotion/mood; and/or sleep. As Speech-Language Pathologists, we see people with symptoms such as trouble remembering, trouble organizing their thoughts and expressing them, trouble following conversations, and trouble understanding what they read. Some people I have worked with didn’t realize that their difficulties were a result of their concussion.

If you or someone you know has experienced these difficulties after a bump, jolt or blow to the head, they may have had a concussion. Are there other symptoms that you or someone you know are experiencing that could be related to a concussion?

BobiTychynskiShimoda-220Bobi Tychynski Shimoda is a Speech-Language Pathologist with more than a decade of experience working with neurological communication and swallowing disorders. She has worked in a variety of settings including inpatient rehab, acute care, community, and private practise. She is highly skilled in assessment, and innovative treatment approaches.

5 ways to help develop your child’s writing skills

Digital Image by Sean LockeDigital Planet

Start Early

Writing is a basic academic requirement that can be fostered in the early years through exposure and opportunity. Simply providing children with paper and a variety of writing utensils (e.g. crayons; chalk; markers) will typically elicit a colourful and creative response.

Switch Things Up

Changing up the writing material can be fun too! Textured paper, cards, boxes, easels, chalkboards, whiteboards, sidewalks, and bath tubs (there are special crayons for this) can all make the same activity seem brand new.

Show Them How

An easy introduction to writing is simply modeling it for children. Write words above shapes, colours and objects you or your child draws, or spend a rainy day creating labels for objects in the environment.

Make It Personal

A sense of ownership is a major component of writing at all ages. Introduce this concept by writing your child’s name at the top of pictures, or make labels for personal belongs of your child’s choice.

Make Lists

A final way to spark you child’s interest in writing at an early age, is to include him or her in developing lists (e.g. grocery lists; to do lists). This is also a great way to target early vocabulary building and categorization skills, which will be essential for writing in the years to come.