As children are heading back to school and after-school sports, it is important to set them up not only for success in the classroom, but also safety during sports. Whether their sport is cheerleading, soccer, or football, recognizing the signs of a concussion is crucial to preserving brain function.
What is a Concussion?
A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury that is caused by a bump or blow to the head that changes the way the brain normally works. This is from either a direct hit, or something indirect such as whiplash from a car accident. A concussion may or may not result in a loss of consciousness, and whether or not consciousness is lost has no bearing on the severity of the injury. Even a “mild” concussion should be assessed by a health care provider, because concussions cause the brain to be more sensitive to stress or other injuries until it has a chance to fully recover. Children and teens are more likely to have greater damage to their brains because they are still developing.
Signs and Symptoms of a Concussion include:
- Decreased concentration
- Hypersensitivity to noise and/or light
- Personality change
- Difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or sleeping more than usual.
If you suspect a concussion:
Do NOT allow the child to return to sports or activity until they can be assessed by a health care provider. They may be referred to a neurologist for further screening. The faster the child is seen by a health care provider, the less likely lasting damage will occur.
Signs requiring immediate medical attention include:
- Persistent progressive headache
- Persistent vomiting
- Slurred speech
- Unequal pupils
- Progressive confusion or memory problems
- Loss of consciousness for over 1 minute
After a Concussion:
Allow child to rest! No sports, no strong emotional situations (happy, sad, anxiety), no school participation. This also means no cell phone, TV, computer, radio, loud noises, or bright lights. Their brain needs to rest too!
Their health care provider will determine whether they are fit to return to full sports participation and school.
Wear a helmet during contact sports such as hockey, football, and lacrosse. Also wear a helmet where falling is possible, such as horseback riding, bike riding, skiing, or skateboarding.
Always wear a seatbelt or use a car seat if appropriate!
For More Information on Concussions please visit:
- Prevention Fact Sheet
- Heads Up program information