News | Published December 31, 2012 | Written by Lela Brink, MD

What parents need to know about concussions experienced by their children, especially sports related

A concussion is a traumatic brain injury caused by a blow to the head or body that results in an alteration to the way the brain functions. Fortunately, most concussions are mild traumatic brain injuries and full recovery is likely. Physicians can evaluate children with traumatic brain injury and should see those who are having symptoms including headache, any loss of consciousness, confusion, amnesia, dizziness or problems with concentration or memory.

Patients with concussion should be monitored to make sure all symptoms have resolved. Brain rest is important after a brain injury. This means limitation not only in sports participation, but also in schoolwork, reading, TV and computer work as these activities could cause return of symptoms. School functioning may be affected during recovery from a concussive traumatic brain injury. Problems with memory, concentration and attention can affect schoolwork and accommodations may be needed to allow full recovery.

A physician trained to evaluate concussions should clear your child for return to practice once symptoms have resolved. Return to activities should be a stepwise process assuring no return of symptoms. For this reason, even with a single simple concussion, many athletes cannot return to full activity within the length of the sports season.

Having had a previous concussion does put a child at risk for second concussion. Although rare, multiple concussive injuries have been associated with increased risk of lasting and even progressive impairment in brain function. There is no set number of concussive injuries that require an athlete give up playing. Evaluation of the injury, the symptoms, time to recovery and any residual impairment will help your physician make recommendations about any limitation in activities.

For more information on concussions, visit mountnittany.org.

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