What is a concussion?
A concussion is a mild injury to the brain that temporarily disrupts how the brain normally works. It is usually caused by a sudden blow or jolt to the head, although children often bump or hit their heads without getting a concussion.
Signs and symptoms of a concussion can include dizziness, headache, vomiting, confusion, acting dazed, forgetting what happened before or after the injury and being “knocked out.” A person does NOT need to be knocked out or lose consciousness to have had a concussion.
Other words or terms for a concussion include “mild traumatic brain injury” (mild TBI) and “mild closed-head injury.”
If I suspect my child has a concussion, what should I do?
- Take your child aside and assess the situation. If your child is an athlete, take him or her out of the game or practice.
- 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 known or possible concussion.
- Allow children and athletes to return to normal activities and play ONLY with permission from an appropriate healthcare professional, such as their primary care provider or a concussion specialist.
For immediate attention, CALL 911.
What should parents look for after their child's head injury?
Serious problems after a concussion are rare, but can occur. For this reason, a medical doctor 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 a doctor’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 two or more times
- Trouble walking or talking
- Any numbness or tingling in arms or legs
- A seizure (arms or legs stiffen or shake uncontrollably)
- Any other sudden change in thinking or behavior
Concussion resources for parents:
Concussion resources for coaches and school staff: