What is a concussion?
A concussion is an injury to the brain. It can be caused by a blow or bump to or around the head. This causes the brain to move inside the skull which can change how the brain works or processes information. Adolescent athletes are particularly vulnerable to the effects of concussion. A concussion has the potential to result in a temporary disruption of normal brain function. Continued participation in any sport or activity following a concussion can lead to worsening concussion symptoms as well as an increased risk for further injury to the brain, and even death.
It is important to remember:
- A concussion usually does not result in loss of consciousness. Only about 10 percent of concussions involve a loss of consciousness.
- Headache is the most common symptom, but you do not have to have a headache to have a concussion.
- Since a concussion does not involve a structural injury to the brain, imaging such as a CT scan or MRI will look normal.
- Healing occurs over time and not right away.
Symptoms of a Concussion
Your child may not have symptoms until a few days after the injury. A symptom is what is reported by the child. Your child may report one or more of these symptoms:
- Clumsy movement or dizziness
- Nausea or vomiting
- Memory loss
- Upset stomach
- Vision problems
- Sensitivity to noise and light
- Numbness or tingling anywhere on the body
- Loss of balance or trouble walking
- Mentally foggy, cannot think clearly or remember things
- Slurred speech or other changes in speech
- Irritable or more fussy than usual
- Acts differently than normal - does not play, acts fussy or seems confused
- More emotional, perhaps very sad or nervous
- Different sleeping patterns
New or Worsening Symptoms
You should watch your child very carefully in the first one to two days after a concussion. Call your child's doctor immediately, go to emergency room or call 911 if your child has any new symptoms or if symptoms get worse, such as:
- Headaches that get worse
- Clear drainage from the nose or ear
- Scalp swelling that gets bigger
- A seizure
- Neck pain
- Is hard to wake up
- Vomits more than once
- Acts differently than usual, such as if he does not play, acts fussy or seems confused
- Cannot think clearly or remember things
- Has weakness in the arms or legs or does not move them as usual
- Cannot recognize people or places
- Slurred speech
- Passes out