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Health Information For Parents
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.
Kids and 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 your child has been diagnosed with a concussion, call your health care provider or go to the ER if your child:
These could be signs of a serious concussion, and your child 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 kids and teens happen while playing sports. The risk is highest for kids who play football, ice hockey, lacrosse, soccer, and field hockey.
Concussions also can 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 use 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, your child needs to cut back on physical activities and those that require a lot of concentration. Then, he or she can start trying these activities again. Symptoms don’t have to be completely gone for your child to add activities. But if symptoms interfere with an activity, your child should take a break from it. He or she can try it again after a few minutes or longer, or try a less strenuous version of the activity.
Help your child follow these steps:
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:
Head injuries can be external or internal. Learn more about both kinds, how to prevent them, and what to do if your child is injured.
Learn about the different types of head injuries, and find out what to do if your child is seriously injuried.
Concussions are serious injuries. Here’s how to help protect kids and teens from these mild traumatic brain injuries.
Participation in sports can teach kids sportsmanship and discipline. But sports also carry the potential for injury. Here’s how to protect your kids.
Knowing what to expect when you need to take your child to the emergency room can help make it a little less stressful.
Get tips on everything from finding the best sport for your kids to preventing and handling injuries.
Although most result in mild bumps and bruises, some falls can cause serious injuries that need medical attention.
Lots of kids have headaches from time to time. Find out more about headaches in this article for kids.
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.
Bike riding is a great way to get exercise and share time as a family. But there’s an important factor that you need to consider – safety.
Your tot’s not a baby anymore! It’s time for a big-kid booster seat. But how can you ensure that your child is still safe and secure in the car? Find out here.
What’s the right way to install an infant safety seat? Is your toddler ready for a convertible seat? Get the car seat know-how you need here.
Following these safety guidelines can make neighborhood playgrounds entertaining and safe for your kids.
In a concussion, the brain shifts inside the skull. This can cause a sudden – but usually temporary – disruption in a person’s ability to function properly and feel well. Here’s what to do if you suspect a 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.
What teachers should know about concussions and the healing process.
You might think of babies and toddlers when you hear the words “babyproofing” or “childproofing,” but unintentional injury is the leading cause of death in kids 14 and under.
Some simple rules can keep you safe on two wheels. Lean more about bike riding in this article for kids.
How can you tell if you have a concussion? What should you do? And what’s going to happen with sports and school? The facts are all on this site for teens.
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.
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.
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.
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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