Learn the Telltale Signs of a Concussion

It’s Sarah’s third season as a forward on the local soccer team. She’s been looking forward to slipping on her shin pads and lacing up her cleats all summer long, and soccer season is finally here. But, for Sarah and many fall athletes, sports season can come with increased risks when it comes to concussions and head injuries…

As the leaves start to change and temperatures cool down, millions of children are hitting the field for the fall sports season, and for good reason—playing team sports can improve your child’s mental, physical, and social wellbeing. But whether its soccer, football, cheerleading, field hockey, or horseback riding, all of these sports come with the risk of injury, especially concussions. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) an estimated 3.8 million concussions due to sport and physical activity are reported in the U.S. each year. Further, over half of all emergency room visits by children ages eight to 13 are the result of sports-related concussions. A concussion—also known as a traumatic brain injury, or TBI—is caused by a bump, blow or jolt to the head which disrupts normal brain function. Concussions can be especially dangerous when they go undetected and a child has a second concussion in a short period of time.

Concussions can be all too common when it comes to sports. Symptoms after concussion may include:

  • Balance problems or dizziness
  • Vomiting or nausea
  • Sensitivity to light or noise
  • Headache
  • Confusion
  • Drowsiness
  • Fatigue

These symptoms may vary from person to person, so stay alert to any signs of concussion by observing changes in your child’s usual behavior, thinking, or mood if they’ve suffered a rough fall or a blow to the head. To learn more about the signs and symptoms associated with a concussion, visit the CDC website

Think your child might have a concussion? Follow these steps to help keep your athlete safe and healthy:

  1. Visit a doctor. A medical professional will be able to assess whether or not your child has a concussion and if that concussion is serious, and can advise you about any aftercare they may need, like a break from physical activity.
  2. Keep your child out of play. It’s a good idea to take it easy for a while if you suspect your child may have had a concussion. This will allow your child to heal and minimize the chances of any further injury, which could cause more serious complications down the line. Once your child’s doctor has assessed the severity of the concussion, they’ll give you guidance on how long to keep your child on the sidelines.
  3. Keep your child’s coaches in the loop. If your child has had a concussion in the past, it’s important to let their coach know. They can stay alert when monitoring your child on the field and may even have suggestions for additional ways to protect your child, such as headgear.
  4. Utilize resources and educate others. Consider sharing some printable resources  (or sharing this link via a team email chain) with your child’s team to educate others about the signs and symptoms of concussions, and to create a safer environment for everyone.

While concussions can be scary, they can also be treatable. Do you have any experience with concussions? Share your story and any additional safety tips in the comments below.