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Frequently Asked Questions

If my child has a concussion, will s/he be able to go back to school and sports ever again? [show/hide]

Most likely, your child will be fine. The vast majority of children who have sustained a concussion make a complete recovery with no complications. However, it's crucial that a child with a concussion is diagnosed and treated properly, and that s/he avoids physical and mental exertion for the period of time recommended by the doctor.


Some children with concussions do develop more serious complications. It might be months before they regain normal brain function and feel "like themselves" again. This is especially true of children who experience a second concussion before fully recovering from their first.


If your child has suffered a possible concussion, the most important thing you can do to maximize his/her chances of a full recovery is to seek immediate medical treatment. Always follow prescribed recommendations for rest, monitoring, and follow-up care. Be sure to adhere to the restrictions and gradual schedule for return to play outlined by the doctor.

Is there any way to prevent concussions? Do helmets and mouth guards help? [show/hide]

Nothing can prevent a concussion. Helmets were designed to guard against catastrophic brain injuries, not concussions. Mouth guards, although very good at protecting the mouth and teeth, do not lower the risk of concussions.


Neck-strengthening exercises may help reduce the chance of your child's head snapping forward or backward if s/he sustains a blow to the body.


If your child has already suffered one concussion, the best way to prevent another is to make sure s/he has recovered fully (getting plenty of mental and physical rest) and been cleared by a doctor before returning to his/her normal routine, including athletics.

How do I know if my child has a concussion? [show/hide]

Concussions can have many different symptoms. Some children experience many symptoms, whereas others have only a few. Every concussion is different!

Symptoms your child might experience following a concussion:

  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Balance problems
  • Disorientation
  • Nausea
  • Difficulty remembering
  • Confusion
  • Behavior or personality changes
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Sleep problems
  • Fatigue
  • Vision changes
  • Hearing changes
  • Decreased attention
  • Increased irritability
  • Feeling sluggish or foggy

Signs (observed by you):

  • Moves clumsily
  • Balance problems
  • Loses consciousness
  • Less energetic
  • Appears dazed or stunned
  • Seems confused
  • Forgets plays or instructions
  • Is unsure about game, score, opponent
  • Responds slowly to questions
  • Forgets events prior to hit or fall
  • Forgets events after the hit or fall
  • Shows changes in mood, behavior, or personality

My child did not get hit in the head. Could s/he still have a concussion? [show/hide]

It is possible to sustain a concussion without being directly hit in the head. A concussion is most often caused by a direct blow to the head, but it can also result from body actions that snap the head forward or back, shaking the brain around in the skull hard enough to cause brain injury, such as a whiplash injury. Any action that results in the brain being bounced around can cause a concussion.

My child has a concussion. Should I take him/her to see a doctor? [show/hide]

All athletes who sustain a concussion need to be evaluated by a health care professional who is familiar with sports concussions. You should call your child's physician and explain what has happened and follow your physician's instructions. If your child is vomiting, has a severe headache, or is having difficulty staying awake or answering simple questions, s/he should be taken to the emergency department immediately.

Do I need to wake my child up every hour when s/he is sleeping? [show/hide]

No. It is OK to let him/her sleep without interruption the night of the injury after evaluation by a health care professional, or if you have spoken with your child's physician and they do not think your child needs further evaluation in the emergency department.

Is it okay to give my child medicine for his/her headache? [show/hide]

After a concussion is diagnosed, talk to your physician about the use of medication — including type of medication and dose — for headache pain and other symptoms.

Relieving headache pain is certainly appropriate, but it does not replace the need for cognitive and physical rest if symptoms are present. Be aware that symptom improvement with medication does not mean that the brain has recovered.

What should I look for if my child is in need for immediate emergency attention rather than waiting to see our doctor? [show/hide]

You should get immediate medical help if your child:

  • Loses consciousness
  • Is extremely sleepy or drowsy and can't be awakened
  • Vomits repeatedly
  • Gets a headache that worsens, lasts for a long time, or is severe
  • Has weakness, numbness, trouble walking, or decreased coordination
  • Has difficulty recognizing familiar people
  • Is very confused
  • Has trouble talking or slurred speech
  • Has a seizure (arms or legs shake uncontrollably)