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Health Information For Teens
A concussion is a type of mild traumatic brain injury (or mild TBI). It happens when a blow to the head or an injury makes the head move back and forth with a lot of force. This causes chemical changes in the brain and, sometimes, damage to the brain cells.
Teens who follow their health care provider’s recommendations usually feel better within a few weeks of the concussion.
Someone with a concussion might be knocked out (this is called a loss of consciousness). But a person doesn’t have to get knocked out to have a concussion.
Signs and symptoms of a concussion include:
Symptoms of a concussion usually happen right away, but can show up hours or days after an injury. A teen with a concussion may:
If you have been diagnosed with a concussion, call your health care provider right away or have someone take you to the ER if you:
These could be signs of a serious concussion, and you might need treatment in a hospital.
The skull helps protect the brain from injury. Spinal fluid cushions the brain inside the skull. A blow or jolt to the head can hurt the brain directly or make the brain move around and bang up against the hard bone of the skull. This changes the signals between nerves, which causes concussion symptoms.
Most concussions in teens happen while playing sports. The risk is highest for those who play football, ice hockey, lacrosse, soccer, and field hockey.
Concussions can also happen from:
To diagnose a concussion, the health care provider will:
If a head injury happens while someone is playing sports, a coach or athletic trainer may do sideline concussion testing. This is when a trained person does a few simple tests after a head injury to help decide if the athlete needs immediate medical care. An athlete who has a head injury must stop playing and see a doctor before returning to play.
Many schools or sports leagues are using baseline concussion tests. Baseline testing uses computer programs to test a player’s normal brain function. It checks attention, memory, and speed of thinking. Doctors compare testing after an injury with baseline results to see how someone is recovering.
Concussions do not show up on a CAT scan or MRI. So, the doctor may not order a brain scan for a mild concussion. A CAT scan or MRI might be done to look for other problems if someone:
Each person with a concussion heals at their own pace. It’s important to find a balance between doing too much and too little.
At first, you need to cut back on physical activities and those that require a lot of concentration. Then, you can start trying these activities again. Your symptoms don’t have to be completely gone for you to add activities. But if symptoms interfere with an activity, take a break from it. You can try it again after a few minutes, or you can try a less strenuous version of the activity.
Student athletes must wait until their health care provider says it’s safe before returning to sports. This means that they:
Hurrying back to sports and other physical activities puts teens at risk for second-impact syndrome. This is when someone gets another head injury before the concussion has healed. Although very rare, second-impact syndrome can cause lasting brain damage and even death. Almost every state has rules about when teens with concussions can start playing sports again.
People are much more likely to get a concussion if they’ve had one before. So preventing concussions is very important after a head injury. To prevent another concussion:
All body parts take time to heal, even brains.This article for teens has tips on what doctors often recommend to help people heal from a concussion.
As long as people play sports, there will be concussions from time to time. Find out how to protect yourself and what to do if you get a concussion playing sports.
A concussion can affect you at school because it’s a type of brain injury. Doing schoolwork and being in a classroom can sometimes make things worse. Here’s what to know about school and concussions.
Football is a lot of fun, but since the name of the game is to hit somebody, injuries are common. To keep things as safe as possible, follow these tips.
Alex plays high school football, track, basketball, and lacrosse. He’s had two concussions. Here, he talks about his experience and what he learned.
Find out what the experts have to say.
Playing hard doesn’t have to mean getting hurt. The best way to ensure a long and injury-free athletic career is to play it safe from the start. Find out how.
You practiced hard and made sure you wore protective gear, but you still got hurt. Read this article to find out how to take care of sports injuries – and how to avoid getting them.
When everyone’s moving so fast and using sticks to sling a solid rubber ball around, injuries are bound to happen in lacrosse. Here’s how to avoid them.
Soccer is easy to learn at a young age, and it’s great exercise. But it’s also a contact sport, and injuries are bound to happen. To help prevent mishaps, follow these safety tips.
Field hockey is a contact sport, and injuries are bound to happen. To minimize your risk of injury, follow these safety tips.
Skateboarding is undeniably cool, but it’s also easy to get hurt. Keep it safe while skateboarding with these safety tips.
The sun is shining – why not dust off your bike and go for a ride? Before you hit the trail, though, read these tips on the right type of bike and gear you will need.
If the brain is a central computer that controls all the functions of the body, then the nervous system is like a network that relays messages back and forth to different parts of the body. Find out how they work in this Body Basics article.
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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