What is a concussion?
A concussion is a mild injury to the brain that disrupts how the brain normally works. It’s usually caused by a sudden blow or jolt to the head, although children often bump or hit their heads without getting a concussion. One does not need to be knocked out or lose consciousness to have experienced a concussion. Another term for concussion is mild traumatic brain injury (mild TBI). Even though a concussion might be called a “mild” injury, it still must be taken seriously because it is an injury to the brain.
Signs and symptoms of a concussion can include headache, dizziness, vomiting, confusion, acting dazed, forgetting what happened before or after the injury and being “knocked out."
What should I do if I suspect my child has a concussion?
- Take your child aside and assess the situation. If your child is an athlete, take him or her out of the game or practice. Athletes should not return to play the same day if a concussion is suspected.
- Ensure your child is evaluated by an appropriate healthcare professional. Do not try to judge the seriousness of the injury yourself.
- If you witness a head injury to another child (not your own), tell his/her parents or guardians about the possible concussion.
- Allow children and athletes to return to play only with permission from an appropriate healthcare professional, such as their primary care provider or a concussion specialist.
For immediate medical attention, CALL 911.
What should parents do in the first days after a concussion?
Serious medical problems after a concussion are rare but can occur. For this reason, a healthcare provider should always be involved in a young person’s care after a concussion.
In the first one to two days after the injury, you should watch your child very carefully. You can give acetaminophen (Tylenol) for headaches, but no other medications should be given during this time without healthcare provider’s approval. You should get IMMEDIATE medical help if your child displays:
- A headache that gets worse, lasts for a long time or is severe
- Confusion, extreme sleepiness or trouble waking up
- Vomiting multiple times
- Trouble walking or talking
- Any numbness, weakness or tingling in arms or legs
- A seizure or convulsion (arms or legs stiffen or shake uncontrollably)
- Any sudden change in thinking or behavior
Concussions and helmet safety:
- Bicycle helmets involved in a crash should be replaced. Even if there is no visible damage, the helmet may not protect your child as well in the next crash.
- Helmets used for contact sports (e.g., football, hockey, lacrosse) should have a National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE) stamp of approval on them. The stamp is usually found on the back or side of the helmet.
- Helmets should not be purchased “used” because the history and care of the helmet are unknown.
- Helmets should only be used for the sport for which they are designed. For example, a ski helmet should only be used for skiing/snowboarding not for other activities.
- Children are much more likely to wear helmets if their parents/guardians wear helmets.
Concussion resources for coaches and parents:
Concussion Comeback guide for teachers and parents:
Recognizing the unique challenges faced by students recovering from a concussion, Children’s Colorado Concussion Comeback program was developed as a comprehensive resource to help parents and teachers guide students back into the school environment.
Why Choose Children’s Hospital Colorado Concussion Program?
At Children’s Colorado, we see thousands of youth each year who have suffered a concussion. Our Concussion Program services comprehensive range of services from medical consultation and appointments for concussions, to helping students return to school and academics, to helping decide when athletes can return to playing sports.