You've probably bumped your head before. Ouch! But some head bumps are worse than
others. A serious hit to the head can hurt your brain
and temporarily change the way your brain works. If that happens, the brain injury
is called a concussion (say: kun-KUH-shun).
The bone of your skull protects your brain. Fluids, such as spinal fluid, also
cushion the brain. But if someone's head gets hit hard enough, the brain can shift
inside of the skull and knock against the bony surface of the skull.
Signs of a Concussion
Concussions are tricky. Your mom or coach probably won't be able to look at you
and say for sure if you have a concussion. That's why you need to see a doctor.
But there are some signs that someone might have a concussion. For some problems,
the person should go right to a hospital emergency room. For other problems, a parent
can call the kid's doctor for advice about what to do next.
severe headache, including a headache that gets worse
confusion and saying things that don't make sense
unresponsive (can't be woken up)
Your mom or dad should call the doctor right away if you have any of these symptoms
after getting hit in the head:
Doctors, coaches, and parents are paying more attention to concussions than they
once did. Why? Because they now know that concussions can cause serious problems for
kids and adults, especially if they don't get the right treatment.
Two Important Steps to Take
The right treatment usually means resting your body and your brain. You've probably
heard about pro athletes who must miss some games after a concussion. It's the same
for kids who play sports.
If the coach or your parent thinks you could have a concussion, you must take these
Stop playing or practicing right away.
Get checked out by a doctor before returning to practice or play in a game.
Kids can get concussions doing stuff other than sports, too. It could be a bike
accident or a fall that causes a concussion — anything that causes a hit
to the head. Kids who get a concussion need to get checked out by a doctor, follow
the doctor's instructions, and get the doctor's OK before getting back to their normal
Protect Your Brain
You might hear this and say: Do I have to? Here's why you should: Kids who rush
it and don't recover fully from a concussion could get injured again because they're
still wobbly from the first concussion. When kids don't recover fully, they are more
likely to have problems, like headaches, that last for weeks or even months. It also
can be hard for them to focus on stuff, like studying for a test.
It makes sense to take care of your brain, which is the boss of your body. Without
it, you couldn't walk, talk, or think!
Want to be a concussion fighter? Here's how to do it:
Tell your coach or parent if you get hit in the head.
Wear your seatbelt when you're traveling in a car.
Also wear a helmet when biking or doing other activities that need them, such as
football, hockey, and skateboarding. Though a helmet can't prevent a concussion, it
can prevent you from getting an even worse brain injury.
The good news is that most kids get better after a concussion and return to all
their normal stuff, including school and sports.