What is a concussion?
A concussion is a type of brain injury that changes the way the brain normally works. A concussion is caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head. Concussions can also occur from a blow to the body that causes the head and brain to move rapidly back and forth. Even what seems to be a mild bump to the head can be serious.
Concussions can have a more serious eﬀect on a young, developing brain and need to be addressed correctly and as soon as possible.
What are the signs and symptoms of a concussion?
You can’t see a concussion. Signs and symptoms of concussion can show up right after an injury or may not appear or be noticed until hours or days after the injury. It is important to watch for changes in how your child or teen is acting or feeling, if symptoms are getting worse, or if s/he just “doesn’t feel right.” Most concussions occur without loss of consciousness.
Be alert for symptoms that worsen.
In the first 1-2 days after the injury, you should watch your child very carefully. You should get IMMEDIATE medical help if your child:
• Loses consciousness
• Is extremely sleepy or cannot remain awake if stimulated
• Vomits repeatedly
• Develops a severe headache
• Has weakness, numbness, or has difficulty walking normally
• Is very confused
• Has slurred speech or difficulty talking
• Has a seizure (arms and legs shake uncontrollably)
• Cries nonstop and cannot be comforted
What should I do if my child or teen has a concussion?
1. Seek medical attention right away. A health care professional experienced in evaluating for concussion can determine how serious the concussion is and when it is safe for your child or teen to return to normal activities, including physical activity and school (concentration and learning activities).
2. Help them take time to get better. If your child or teen has a concussion, her or his brain needs time to heal. Your child or teen may need to limit activities while s/he is recovering from a concussion. Exercising or activities that involve a lot of concentration, such as studying, working on the computer, or playing video games may cause concussion symptoms (such as headache or tiredness) to reappear or get worse. After a concussion, physical and cognitive activities—such as concentration and learning—should be carefully managed and monitored by a health care professional.
3. Together with your child or teen, learn more about concussions. Talk about the potential long-term eﬀects of concussion and the dangers of returning too soon to normal activities (especially physical activity and learning/concentration). For more information about concussion and free resources, visit: www.cdc.gov/Concussion.