Head for Safety

Treat concussion injuries with care

A second blow to the head before the first one has healed could result in permanent, catastrophic brain injury - even death.

By Joel Brenner, MD

Concussions are among the most dangerous sport-related injuries children can suffer. Many people believe that a concussion occurs only when a child loses consciousness – or “passes out.” This is not the case. While a child who loses consciousness after a blow to the head will almost certainly have a concussion, most children with concussions do not pass out.

Some children with concussions may have very mild symptoms, but every concussion represents an injury to the brain.

A child who shows any signs of a concussion should be removed from play immediately and evaluated by a physician before returning to play, even if the child insists he or she is feeling fine.

A child who shows any signs of a concussion should be removed from play immediately and evaluated by a physician before returning to play, even if the child insists he or she is feeling fine.

The most common symptoms of concussions are:

  • confusion headache memory loss (asking questions like “what happened?”)
  • appearing stunned or “in a fog”
  • difficulty concentrating (especially in school)
  • nausea
  • double vision
  • dizziness
  • sleep disturbance

Young athletes are taught to be tough, but this is not a time to let them “shake it off.” A second blow to the head before the first one has healed could result in permanent, catastrophic brain injury – even death.

How long it takes to recover from a concussion varies from child to child. One tool that can be used to determine the severity of a concussion and how a child is recovering is the ImPACT test, a non-invasive, computerized analysis of a child’s neurocognitive functioning (reaction time, attention span, memory, problem-solving, etc.).

ImPACT testing is available at Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters and our Health Center locations at Strawbridge and Greenbrier. •••

By Dr. Brenner , co-director of CHKD's Sports Medicine program, is a sports medicine and adolescent medicine specialist with Children's Specialty Group PLLC at CHKD.