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Recognize the Signs of a Concussion

A concussion is a type of 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 rapidly back and forth. This sudden movement can cause the brain to bounce around or twist within the skull, damaging the brain cells and creating chemical changes in the brain.

Children and teens who show or report signs and symptoms listed below, or simply say they just "don't feel right" after a bump, blow, or jolt, may have a concussion or more serious brain injury.

Signs you may observe:

  • Can't recall events prior to or after a hit or fall

  • Appears dazed or stunned

  • Forgets an instruction, is confused about an assignment, or is unsure of their surroundings

  • Moves clumsily

  • Answers questions slowly

  • Loses consciousness (even briefly)

  • Shows mood, behavior, or personality changes

Symptoms they may report:

  • Headache or "pressure" in the 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"

These signs and symptoms generally show up soon after the injury. However, you may not know how serious the injury is at first and some symptoms may not show up for hours or days. You should continue to check for signs of concussion right after the injury and a few days after the injury. If their signs or symptoms get worse, you should take them to the emergency room right away.

In rare cases, a dangerous collection of blood may form on the brain after a head injury. Call 9-1-1 right away or take your child to the emergency room if they have any of the following danger signs after a bump, blow, or jolt:

Dangerous Signs of a Concussion:

  • One pupil larger than the other

  • Drowsiness or inability to wake up

  • A headache that gets worse and does not go away

  • Slurred speech, weakness, numbness, or decreased coordination

  • Repeated vomiting or nausea, convulsions or seizures (shaking or twitching)

  • Unusual behavior, increased confusion, restlessness, or agitation

  • Loss of consciousness (pass out/knocked out). Even brief loss of consciousness!

Dangerous Signs of Concussion for Toddlers and Infants:

  • Any of the signs listed above

  • Will not stop crying and cannot be consoled

  • Will not nurse or eat

There are many ways to help reduce the risk of concussion or other serious brain injury. Below are a list of things you can do for different ages and situations to prevent concussions.

For Young Children:

  • Use car seats and booster seats properly

  • Make sure your kids always wear helmets when biking, skateboarding, etc.

  • Utilize stair gates to prevent falls for infants and toddlers

  • Use playgrounds with soft surfaces like mulch or sand not grass and packed dirt

For Kids Playing Sports:

  • Create a safe sports culture: enforce a safe playing environment

  • Enforce the rules of the sport for fair play, safety, and sportsmanship

  • Talk about concussion reporting: encourage your kid's team to be honest about their symptoms

  • Get a concussion action plan in place: help standardize what happens after a teammate gets a concussion

  • Sports that are particularly risky for getting a concussion:

  • Baseball, basketball, cheerleading, field hockey, football, ice hockey, lacrosse, soccer, softball, volleyball, and wrestling

  • Click HERE for prevention tips for each of these sports!

To learn more about concussions and brain injuries and how to recognize them and prevent them, CLICK HERE.