Youth Concussions: What Parents Need to Know

In 2014, Governor Pat Quinn signed a bill into law to provide new protections for high school athletes regarding concussions. A recent NPR Illinois story indicates that while reporting of student concussions has increased in recent years, not every Illinois high school has the resources to fully implement the law.

What is a Concussion?

A concussion is a traumatic brain injury (TBI) caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or by a hit to the body that causes the head and brain to move quickly back and forth. This fast movement can cause the brain to bounce around or twist in the skull, creating chemical changes in the brain and sometimes stretching and damaging the brain cells. This short video explains concussions and how to treat them.

Recognizing a Concussion

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that parents may observe the following signs in their children that can indicate a concussion:

  • Appears dazed or stunned.
  • Forgets an instruction, is confused about an assignment or position, or is unsure of the game, score, or opponent.
  • Moves clumsily.
  • Answers questions slowly.
  • Loses consciousness (even briefly).
  • Shows mood, behavior, or personality changes.
  • Can’t recall events prior to or after a hit or fall.

In addition, the CDC says that children and teens who have suffered a concussion may report the following symptoms:

  • Headache or “pressure” in head.
  • Nausea or vomiting.
  • Balance problems or dizziness, or double or blurry vision.
  • Bothered by light or noise.
  • Feeling sluggish, hazy, foggy, or groggy.
  • Confusion, or concentration or memory problems.
  • Just not “feeling right,” or “feeling down.”

If you suspect your child has suffered a concussion, take them to a doctor for evaluation. Note that a concussion can occur from any blow to the head, not just those from youth sports, so be aware of the possibility of a concussion occurring even on the playground or at home.

Resources on Concussions

The CDC has numerous resources on concussions for parents, including:

Photo © 2006 by Jamie Williams under Creative Commons license.

What Parents Should Know About Distracted Driving

Today’s post is courtesy of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. The information is also available as a PDF infographic that you can share.

Driver inattention is the number one cause of motor vehicle crashes.

  • Drivers are distracted about 10% of the time they are behind the wheel.
  • Distracting secondary tasks—such as texting or dialing—take the driver’s eyes off the forward roadway, making it harder for him or her to react to unexpected hazards.
  • Engaging in distracting tasks is more dangerous for novice teenage drivers than experienced adult drivers.

Distracting tasks that take the driver’s eyes off the forward roadway increase crash risk!

  • Sending or checking texts
  • Using a phone to dial, check social media, take pictures, or play music
  • Looking at a map or GPS
  • Eating or drinking
  • Talking to other passengers, especially other teens
  • Adjusting a radio, windows, or mirrors in the car

How can you keep your teen safe?

  1. Supervise your newly licensed teen more closely than you think you need to. Ride with him/her when you can.
  2. Do not allow cell phone use while driving. If your teen needs to take a call, remind him/her to pull over to the side of the road.
  3. Limit nighttime driving and driving with passengers, especially during the first 6 months after your teen gets a license.
  4. Agree, in writing, to a series of monthly “checkpoints,” easing restrictions as your teen’s judgment and experience improve.
  5. Model good behavior when you are behind the wheel.

The NICHD is committed to research on driving risks and ways to help keep teen drivers safe.

To learn more about how to reduce accidents due to distracted driving, visit or /health/topics/driving.


20 John Wooden Quotes to Share with Your Child

Legendary UCLA men’s basketball coach John Wooden accomplished a lot on the court—10 NCAA championships in 12 years, including an unprecedented seven in a row, and being named national coach of the year six times. For his players, though, it was what he taught them off the court that had a greater effect on their lives than what he taught them on the court. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Bill Walton, among others, still speak of Coach Wooden in reverent terms. Here are 20 quotes from Coach Wooden to share with your child to help inspire them to do and be their best.

  1. “It’s the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen.”
  2. “You can’t live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you.”
  3. “If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?”
  4. “Success comes from knowing that you did your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming.”
  5. “Young people need models, not critics.”
  6. “If you’re not making mistakes, then you’re not doing anything. I’m positive that a doer makes mistakes.”
  7. “Happiness begins where selfishness ends.”
  8. “Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.”
  9. “The best competition I have is against myself to become better.”
  10. “Success is never final, failure is never fatal. It’s courage that counts.”
  11. “Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.”
  12. “Whatever you do, surround yourself with smart people who’ll argue with you.”
  13. “Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out.”
  14. “It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.”
  15. “Today is the only day. Yesterday is gone.”
  16. “If you’re true to yourself, you’re going to be true to everyone else.”
  17. “You can’t let praise or criticism get to you. It’s a weakness to get caught up in either one.”
  18. “Make each day your masterpiece.”
  19. “Never make excuses. Your friends don’t need them, and your foes won’t believe them.”
  20. “The most important thing in the world is family and love.”

Consider picking a quote or two to discuss with your family this week, and really dig into what Coach Wooden is saying about character, success, and life.


Go on a Painted Rock Hunt

Have you heard about the painted rock craze yet? It’s a nationwide scavenger hunt meant to promote kindness and encourage art, creativity, and community spirit. From western Washington to the Florida panhandle, rock painting groups are brightening the days of strangers, one colorful rock at a time.

I was first introduced to hiding and seeking painted rocks through a Collinsville PTA member who was looking for a simple art project she could do at home with her two daughters. That’s how she discovered The Painted Rocks Project: Glen Carbon, a Facebook group that’s gaining local followers in the Glen Carbon/Edwardsville/Maryville area. With the mission of spreading “love and light,” the group of nearly 1,000 members hides painted rocks all around the area.

The idea is a simple one: Gather a few supplies (flat, paintable rocks, acrylic paint, sealer, paint brushes) and then decorate your rock, getting as creative as you like. Some folks include instructions on the bottom of their rock that let the finder know which Facebook group to post a photo to once it’s been found. Popular hiding spots include city sidewalks, park benches, playgrounds, ATMs, grocery stores and gas pumps.

What’s the appeal? Group members cite the joy of spending creative time with family and friends, giving back to the community, and spending time in nature. There’s also the appeal of a good, old-fashion treasure hunt. Families are walking streets, scouring local parks, and searching trails and playgrounds.

Intrigued with the idea, I did a quick internet search and found a rock painting group right in our own community. So the kids and I set out last Saturday afternoon in search of our first hidden treasure. I had no idea that the vibrantly painted rock we found would have such a joyful effect on us. Truth be told, I was disappointed that I wasn’t the one to find it. After all, I was the one looking high and low—scanning the sidewalk, the park benches, and the playground. Just when we were about to give up the hunt, my daughter shouted out a loud, “YES!!!” followed by a massive fist pump as she laid eyes on our first prize.

Sometimes the world gives us a small sign of encouragement, right when we need it the most. That’s the idea behind the rock painting movement. It’s about sparking joy and happiness in people’s everyday lives. It certainly felt that way when my daughter found our first treasure. The excitement and look of joy on her face meant as much to me as it did to her.

How to Paint Your Own Rocks

There are lots of “How-To” tutorials on YouTube, but the basic process is:

  1. Clean: Paint won’t stick to dirty rocks, so wash your rocks in warm water and soap. You might want to scrub it with an old toothbrush to make sure all debris is removed.
  2. Sand: If there are any light bumps or grit on your rock, you can smooth it using sandpaper.
  3. Paint: Use acrylic paint for best results. Adding a white base layer before painting the color you want makes it pop. Let each layer of paint dry before applying the next layer.
  4. Detail: Adding text with markers is easier than painting words. Through trial and error, I have found that Posca Markers work best for rock painting.
  5. Seal: This is one of the most important steps to rock painting. All that creative work that you put into your stone would be wasted with any type of moisture. You want a seal that won’t curdle if the stones are subject to weather, such as Krylon Clear Coat Spray. Two thin coats works best.
  6. Dry

Ideas on Where to Leave Rocks

  • Playgrounds
  • Nook of a tree
  • Farmer’s market
  • Veteran hospital
  • Nursing home
  • On top of a neighbor’s mailbox
  • Motivation rocks would complement any fitness center parking lot, YMCA or locker room
  • One person left a hot dog rock painting on a grill at a sports store
  • A corn cob rock was found in the frozen section of the grocery store

Where NOT to Leave Rocks

  • Lawns or anywhere that a mower can run over it
  • Leaving rocks in state or national parks is not allowed
  • Anywhere that a person has to climb to get the rock
  • In the middle of pathways where people can trip on them
  • Businesses that don’t give you permission before “hiding” them there
  • Anyone’s private property

Find Where Community Rocks

Many who hide rocks like to post clues on Facebook, some in hopes that finders will share their joy of their successful hunt. To find clues and share success, look up these rock groups or search for groups in your area, as new ones are popping up every week.

Chicago area:





Southern Illinois area:

Don’t be surprised if you become a little addicted to finding and painting rocks.

Have you joined a rock group? We’d love to hear about your adventures!