What is a Concussion?

Concussion Head Injury

A concussion is a type of brain injury that changes the way it normally works and is typically caused by some trauma either directly or indirectly to the brain.

An estimated 1.6 to 3.8 million athletes annually suffer concussions, according to the Brain Injury Research Institute.  Leading causes of concussions include:

  • Falls
  • Motor-vehicle-related injuries
  • Unintentionally being struck by or against an obstacle
  • Assaults
  • Playing sports

Unfortunately, concussions are often overlooked because the signs and symptoms may not appear immediately. Even when they do appear, symptoms can be subtle and easily dismissed.

How Can You Spot a Possible Concussion in Your Child?

Concussions are caused by a bump, blow or jolt to the head that causes the head and brain to move rapidly back and forth.

Signs you may observe in your child is that he or she:

  • Appears dazed or stunned
  • Is confused about events
  • Answers questions slowly
  • Repeats questions
  • Loses consciousness
  • Shows behavior or personality changes
  • Forgets class schedule or assignments

Your child tells you he or she:

  • Has difficulty thinking clearly, concentrating or remembering
  • Feels sluggish, hazy, foggy or groggy
  • Has a headache or feels pressure in the head
  • Feels dizzy or off-balance
  • Feels tired or fatigued
  • Has blurry or double vision
  • Has a sensitivity to light or noise
  • Just does not “feel right”
  • Feels, irritable, sad, nervous
  • Is having sleep problems

Danger signs to be on the lookout for include:

  • Headache that gets worse and does not go away
  • Weakness, numbness or decreased coordination
  • Repeated vomiting or nausea
  • Slurred speech

Go to the emergency room immediately if your child:

  • Looks very drowsy or cannot be awakened
  • Has one pupil larger than the other
  • Has convulsions or seizures
  • Cannot recognize people or places
  • Gets more and more confused, restless or agitated
  • Exhibits unusual behavior or changes in the way he or she plays or acts
  • Loses consciousness
  • Will not stop crying
  • Will not nurse or eat

Very young children often bump and bruise themselves. They may not be able to tell you how they are feeling so it’s important to know that even mild bumps to the head can sometimes be serious enough to require a visit to the doctor or emergency room.

When you have questions, our team is here to answer them for you.

Helping Your Child Heal from a Concussion

Concussion flowchart brain injury traumaThings you can do to help your child include:

  • Ensuring he or she gets plenty of rest
  • Ensuring he or she keeps a regular sleep schedule
  • Making sure he or she avoids high-risk or high-speed activities such as bicycle riding, playing sports, climbing on playground equipment and other activities that could result in another bump to the head.
  • Gaining the doctor’s permission to return to school and activities. Children and teens with a concussion should refrain from sports and recreational activities, including PE class, sports practices, and physical activity at recess.
  • Ensuring teachers, friends, family and others understand the restrictions imposed



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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published August 10, 2016. It was reviewed on September 14, 2022 and updated for content and accuracy.  

Photo Credits:
Ben Turner Eye Injury via photopin (license)
Stepwise process for exertion on recovery (7) via photopin (license)

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