participant sustains a head injury, remove him from the activity or game and
observe him or her closely for any signs of concussion. In most cases, to
be safe, the player should not return to the activity. Coaches and
teachers should bring the injury to the parents' attention and consider the
Healthcare of Atlanta)
Concussions are a common and dangerous injury suffered by young athletes
that can occur with or without loss of consciousness. In fact, many symptoms
of concussion donít show up until 1 to 3 days after the injury.
While athletes of all ages and activity levels are at risk, those playing
soccer and football are some of the most likely to suffer a concussion while
on the field.
For soccer players, concussions are most often caused by improper heading
techniques, or from head-to-head and arm-to-head contact while competing for
50/50 balls in the air. Collisions with other players on the field, or being
kicked in the head by a high kick or side tackle can also result in
- Itís estimated that 1.6 to 3.8 million concussions
occur every year ó many of those go unreported or unnoticed.
- Boys and girls respond differently to concussions. On
average, girls take a few days longer to recover than boys. Younger athletes
typically take longer to recover from concussions than older athletes.
- Of any sport, football carries the highest risk of
concussion. Next is soccer and basketball. As lacrosse grows in popularity,
it may account for a significant number of concussions as well.
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.
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
- 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.
When should I call a doctor?
If you suspect your child has a concussion, talk to your
child's doctor. All head injuries should be taken seriously. In case of
an urgent concern or emergency, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency
department right away.
How to identify a concussion
Your child's doctor will help determine if he has a
concussion. Evaluations for suspected concussions may include:
- Complete medical history and physical examination
performed by a doctor
- Review of post-concussion ImPACT evaluation scores
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
- 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
Second impact and post-concussion symptoms
Athletes who suffer a concussion have a three to four
times higher risk of suffering a second concussion. The second concussion may
be caused by milder impact and the symptoms typically last longer than with
the first one.
Second Impact Syndrome
We cannot stress enough how important it is that your child wait for
full-recovery before getting back in the game. If an athlete suffers a second
blow to the head before fully recovering from a concussion, the consequence
can be catastrophic. Second Impact Syndrome (SIS) results in a massive rush of
blood into the brain causing irreversible brain swelling, seizures, coma or
death in one-half of all cases. Over 90 percent of survivors of SIS have
permanent brain damage.
When an athlete suffers from concussion symptoms for over six weeks, itís
called post-concussive syndrome. Itís difficult to predict who will get
post-concussive syndrome, but kids with a previous concussion, ADHD, migraines
or any other neurological condition may be at higher risk.
Steps to get help
It's important to get your child evaluated if you suspect
a concussion. If your child is participating in a sport at the time of injury,
take him out of the game or practice. Your child should avoid activities that
put him at risk for another head injury soon after the first one. A child should
recover and be completely symptom-free at rest and with physical exertion before
returning to sports or other activities. Before a youth athlete can return to
play, he must be cleared by a healthcare provider trained in the management of
In case of an urgent concern or emergency, call
911 or go to the nearest emergency department right away.
1. Contact your pediatrician or visit a Children's Urgent
Care Center or Emergency Department.
2. Get your non-urgent questions answered.
- If a doctor has diagnosed your child with a concussion
and you still have questions about his or her treatment contact our concussion
nurse. Call 404-785-KIDS (5437) and ask for the concussion
- The concussion nurse is available 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Monday to Friday. If you call after 3 p.m. or on weekends or holidays, leave a
message and the nurse will return your call the next business day.