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Concussion: When Is It Safe to Return to Play?

2013 concussion 1US emergency departments have seen a 60 percent increase in the number of sports- and recreational activity-related traumatic brain injuries (including concussions) during just the past 10 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.

“In many cases, children are more vulnerable to head injury and heal more slowly than adults,” said Carrie Dow-Smith, MD, a pediatrician with WakeMed Physician Practices-Pediatrics and Concussion Services. “That’s why expert evaluations are critical for young athletes who sustain real or suspected concussions during play.”

Enter WakeMed Concussion Services. Led by a pediatric neurologist, WakeMed physical therapists, occupational therapists and speech language pathologists provide special screenings to determine if your child has fully healed after suffering a mild head injury. Services are available to children and teens ages 7 to 17 who have suffered a minor head injury within the past two weeks and include:

  • Neurological exam and history documentation
  • Neurocognitive and functional assessments including Immediate Postconcussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing (ImPACT)
  • Balance testing
  • Dynamic visual acuity testing

For more information about WakeMed Concussion Services, visit www.wakemed.org or call WakeMed Concussion Services at 919-350-4340. WakeMed Concussion Services is located in the WakeMed Wake Forest Road Outpatient Rehabilitation Center at 3701 Wake Forest Road in Raleigh.

2013 concussion 2From Coma to Baseball Diamond

In January, 16-year-old Noah Bacon left for school and didn’t return home for five months. No one really knows why the Durham resident’s car left the road, but when the rescue crew reached the accident, Noah had to be cut out of the car.

Noah sustained massive injuries including a traumatic brain injury. He received immediate treatment at Duke Hospital where he spent several weeks in a medically induced coma to promote brain healing.

Once stabilized, Noah was ready for transfer to a rehabilitation hospital. But what rehabilitation facility would take a young patient in a coma who was expected to recover and be able to undergo intensive therapy?

Once at WakeMed Rehabilitation Hospital with at least one of his parents at his side every day, Noah went from coma, to consciousness, to intensive inpatient therapy. Noah’s mother, Clarissa Bacon, recalls Noah’s stay at WakeMed. “Everyone – the doctors, nurses, therapists – were so kind and respectful to our son. They were always positive and upbeat and made the whole situation bearable.”

On Sunday, July 21, Noah Bacon, one of WakeMed’s amazing Comeback Kids, threw out the first pitch – a rising fastball – at the Carolina Mudcats game vs. the Winston-Salem Dash.

Keep up the great work, Noah! You’re amazing!


2013 concussion 3Fast Facts about Kids and Concussions

  • US emergency departments see more than 170,000 kids ages 0 to 19 for sports- and recreational activityrelated traumatic brain injuries (including concussions) each year.
  • Children and teens are more likely to get a concussion and take longer to heal than adults.
  • Bicycling, football, playground activities, basketball and soccer are the activities associated with the greatest number of pediatric, traumatic brain injury-related emergency department visits.