A concussion is a traumatic brain injury (TBI). It can result from any force to the head that causes injury to brain cells, such as a contact sport injury, a fall, or whiplash from a car accident. Concussions can occur in any organized or unorganized sport or recreational activity. CDC estimates that 1.7 million Americans sustain a TBI, including concussions, each year. Of those individuals, 52,000 die, 275,000 are hospitalized, and 1.4 million are treated and released from an emergency department. The injured person does not need to lose consciousness to have a concussion. Symptoms can show up right away or days or weeks after the injury.
Symptoms of a concussion may include:
- Dizziness or balance problems
- Double or fuzzy vision
- Sensitivity to light or noise
- Feeling sluggish or tired
- Trouble concentrating or remembering
Parents and caregivers may notice additional concussion symptoms:
- Appears dazed or stunned
- Forgets an instruction
- Moves clumsily
- Shows behavior or personality changes
- Is unsure of game, score or opponent
- Can’t recall events before or after hit or fall
If you think your child may have a concussion, seek medical attention right away. A concussion often does not appear in MRI or CAT scans. A health care provider will be able to decide how serious the concussion is and when it is safe for your child to return to academics, sports and recreational activities. Children who return to sports and activities too soon risk a greater chance or having a second concussion. Second or later concussions can cause permanent brain damage.
To prevent a concussion, ensure your child follows the rules, whether they’re the rules of the game or the rules of the road. Make sure children wear the right protective equipment for their activity such as helmet, padding, eye and mouth guards or shin guards. Parents should learn the signs and symptoms of a concussion, and should keep their child out of a sports game or activity after a concussion. Remind children that it’s better to miss a game or two than the whole season. Information from www.cdc.gov/injury and www.biama.org