Consumer Reports warns parents not to take concussions lightly

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Emily Penner, 15 is thrilled to be playing basketball once again.

She sustained a serious concussion during practice in February 2016, an injury that kept her sidelined for months while she received physical therapy to regain her balance.

Her mother still gets emotional just thinking about the long and difficult road to recovery.

"As a mom you just, you want to do everything for your child, but there is nothing you can do," said Diane Penner. "There's really nothing you can do to help."

Concussions are common as sports injuries go. While they're usually not life-threatening, they still have the potential to be serious.

But even though parents may feel helpless, Consumer Reports says there are some things you can do, starting with prevention.

"Talk to the coach. You know, have a conversation about player safety. You know, ask what coaches are doing, asking what they're thinking about concussion prevention," said Consumer Reports Health Editor Diane Umansky.

Neurologist and Consumer Reports Medical Director Orly Avitzur said it's also important to take any blow to the head seriously.

"If you think your child has had a concussion, pull them out of the game. You don't want them to return to play on the same day as a concussion, even if you think their symptoms have resolved," Avitzur said.

Symptoms can crop up quickly, or be delayed by a day or two. So parents are encouraged to look out for things, such as nausea, headache, confusion, dizziness and memory problems.

After extensive rest and rehabilitation, Emily Penner finally recovered. But treatment depends on the extent of the injury. Most symptoms go away within a week or two, but they can also linger.

Parents are urged to make sure children have medical clearance to return to sports after sustaining a concussion. If children are up to it, they're also encouraged to have some gentle physical activity.