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Veterans Benefits Information

For children who get concussions, brain rest is best

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Physical activity helps children build strong bones and muscles while maintaining a healthy weight. But every year, sports and recreational endeavors lead to as many as 1 million to 2 million concussions in children younger than 18, according to a recent report from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

A concussion is a mild traumatic brain injury caused by a blow, bump, or jolt to the head. Most children under 18 will recover fully from a concussion with no lasting health effects, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, it may take children longer than adults to recover from a concussion, the CDC says.

Here are some facts about children and concussions:

Children can get a concussion without blacking out.

Loss of consciousness may be so brief that it’s not noticeable – “like feeling stunned,” said Dr. Bradley Dengler, an Army major and director of neurotrauma and neurocritical care at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. Other symptoms of concussion, according to the CDC, include feeling dizzy or confused; experiencing problems with balance, vision, or motor skills; and sleeping more or less than usual.

Signs of concussion can occur immediately after a head injury, Dengler said, or days and even weeks afterward.

A CT or CAT scan may not be needed.

This imaging test determines if there’s also internal bleeding or a skull fracture, said Dr. Tony Kim, an Air Force colonel and assistant professor in the Department of Military and Emergency Medicine at Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland.  Kim said it’s more common for physicians to scan elderly people who have head injuries because the brain shrinks as people age. As a result, there’s more room in the skull for the organ to jostle around and cause vein tears that lead to bleeding.

With young children, Kim said studies have shown the majority of concussion cases don’t result in skull fractures or internal bleeding. “So the decision for scanning is based on using prediction scores,” such as the PECARN Pediatric Head Injury Score.

“If the prediction score is low, that means the likelihood of finding an injury needing neurosurgical intervention is also low,” Kim said. “So it may be more harmful to expose the child to radiation from the scan.”

The brain needs healing time.

“The best treatment for a concussion is brain rest,” Dengler said. “That means staying out of school and certainly staying out of sports, or not exerting yourself, until you’re back to normal. Kids should be able to exert themselves without getting a headache.”

“I know it’s boring and difficult for kids in this modern era to sit and do nothing,” Kim said. “But the brain just needs to rest. So no loud music, no stimulating lights, no video games, no smart phone use or social media.”

Without adequate healing time, the risk increases for post-concussion syndrome. “It can last for months,” Kim said. Symptoms include persistent headaches and intermittent nausea.

The CDC has developed a mobile game app to teach children ages 6 to 8 about concussion and brain safety and has a concussion information sheet for parents.

Also, children who resume vigorous activities too soon after getting a concussion are at increased risk of getting another one, according to the CDC. Multiple concussions can lead to long-term brain damage including loss of memory and problems with organizational skills, such as keeping track of homework papers, the CDC said.

“The more concussions you get, the worse the long-term damage is going to be,” Dengler said.


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National commander: ‘Barbara Bush was a great patriot, leader’

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The leader of the nation’s largest veteran’s organization, American Legion National Commander Denise H. Rohan, issued the following statement regarding the passing of former first lady Barbara Bush:

“The American Legion joins the world in mourning the passing of a great first lady. Barbara Bush, the wife of a World War II veteran and the mother of another president, was a true American patriot. Whether it was raising her highly successful family, serving as first lady or fighting to eliminate illiteracy, Barbara Bush epitomized grace and class. She made her mark in history and will be missed. Our condolences are extended to the Bush family and her legion of friends.”


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Sign up to follow what the Legion Riders are doing

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As warmer weather moves in – at least in parts of the country – motorcycle riding season picks up, which means The American Legion Riders will be on roads and highways across the nation doing the work of the Legion.

Keep up to date on what local Legion Riders chapters are doing, as well as on national events such as Rolling Thunder and The American Legion Legacy Run, by subscribing to The American Legion Riders Newsletter. The monthly email is sent directly to your inbox and provides info on the Legacy Run, a listing of ALR events across the nation, a Riders Safety Corner and links to both start your own chapter and share what your chapter is doing.

To subscribe, click here.


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Legion Baseball surpasses 2,000 teams, trending ahead of 2017 season

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With teams gearing up for the 2018 season, American Legion Baseball registration has already exceeded 2,000 teams.

Teams can register at baseball.legion.org.

With just under a month until the May 15 early registration deadline and six weeks from the 2018 final deadline on June 1, registration is trending upward for the storied program.

Numerous departments across the country are reporting growth heading into the 2018 campaign.

For more information on how to participate, visit www.legion.org/baseball/participate.


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Rawlings baseballs now available for American Legion season

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Rawlings, a leading baseball company out of St. Louis, has become a licensee for American Legion Baseball ahead of the 2018 season.

Baseballs are now available through American Legion Emblem Sales and feature the American Legion Baseball emblem.

Rawlings baseballs are priced at $65.95 per dozen or $649.50 for a case.

This makes five licensees for the 2018 season as Rawlings joins Diamond, Wilson, Baden and AD Starr (which Dick's Sporting Goods recently purchased but the name will remain).

All baseballs are available for purchase by clicking here or by visiting an authorized retailer. Patches, apparel and more are available here.


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Did you know?

The issuance or replacement of military service medals, awards and decorations must be requested in writing.

Requests should be submitted in writing to the appropriate military service branch division of the NPRC. Standard form (SF 180), available through the VA, is recommended to submit your request. Generally, there is no charge for medal or award replacements. For more information, or for the mailing address of the military branch office to submit your request to, call 1-86-NARA-NARA (1-866-272-6272) or visit the NPRC website at www.archives.gov