What is a Concussion?
A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury that most often occurs in contact sports such as football and soccer. It is caused by a powerful blow to the body or the head that shakes the brain inside the skull, possibly damaging nerves. When this happens, the brain may not function normally, causing problems with vision, hearing, balance and memory.
Your child may have a concussion without losing consciousness. There may not be any external signs of head trauma. And imaging tests such as CT and MRI often show no abnormalities. It is important to examine your child carefully for possible signs and symptoms of a concussion so you can get medical attention as soon as possible.
Symptoms and Diagnosis
A concussion may affect each child differently, however there are consistent signs and symptoms to look out for in your child.
General signs of concussion
Consult with a medical provider right away if your child:
- Appears dazed or stunned
- Is confused
- Can’t recall events before the bump or fall
- Loses consciousness (even briefly)
- Has personality changes
Emergency concussion warning signs
Go to the closest emergency department if you notice any of these signs in your child:
- Weakness, numbness or decreased coordination
- Repeated nausea or vomiting
- Slurred speech
- Personality changes
- Inability to wake up
- One pupil larger than the other
- Convulsions or seizures
- A loss of consciousness
Children who have suffered from a concussion are likely to experience symptoms in these four areas. These symptoms can be present immediately after a concussion or may appear several days after the concussion occurred.
Expert Concussion Diagnosis at Children’s Health
Our compassionate, knowledgeable team will conduct an in-depth neurologic exam. The exam is not painful and includes an assessment of:
- Motor and sensory skills
- Balance and coordination
- Functioning of the nerves
- Mental status and neuropsychological testing
- Vestibulo-ocular testing
Diagnostic Procedures for Concussion
There may not be any external signs of head trauma. A concussion is not diagnosed by a scan or only one test, though imaging tests may be used to rule out serious damage or severe head injury. The diagnostic tests your child may receive include:
- Computed tomography (CT) scan: A combination of X-rays and computer technology produce detailed images of the brain.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): Powerful magnets and radio waves give our specialists a complete view of the brain.
At Children’s, our team of specialists is committed to helping your child return safely to normal activities like sports and play. Treating a concussion usually involves ample rest and over-the-counter medications for pain.
Allowing the concussion to fully heal is vital for your child’s short- and long-term health. Your child can return to activities or sports once the concussion has healed and a physician has medically cleared your child.
Our resources page provides detailed guides on assessing your child’s recovery from a concussion.
Rehabilitation After Concussion
With prompt treatment, most children recover fully from mild concussions with no long-term effects. However, some children may not follow the standard phases of recovery. We offer ongoing follow-up care so your child can safely return to normal activities. Learn more about our comprehensive rehabilitation services at Children's Health Specialty Center Cityville.
Your child may be referred to our concussion program when:
- The concussion is not healing properly
- He or she has had multiple concussions
- Their provider suspects post-concussion syndrome (still having symptoms greater than a month after concussion)
- You would like your child’s concussion to be fully managed by our team