A concussion is a brain injury that affects the way the brain works and can lead to symptoms such as headache, dizziness, and confusion. Symptoms usually go away within a few days to a month with rest and a gradual return to school and regular activities. Sometimes, the symptoms last longer.
It’s important to try to prevent concussions because they can cause long-lasting, serious effects on the brain. Be sure to talk to your kids and teens about what can happen from concussions and how to prevent them.
What Happens in a Concussion?
A concussion happens when the brain is injured. This can happen when the head is hit — for example, from a fall. But concussions also can happen without a blow to the head — for example, in a car accident when the head snaps forcefully forward and back. The strong movement causes chemical and blood flow changes in the brain. These changes lead to concussion symptoms.
What Can Help Prevent Concussion?
To help protect your kids from concussions:
Talk to coaches to make sure that all teams your kids play on have rules to reduce the risk of concussions, such as limits on tackling (football), body checking (hockey), or heading the ball (soccer). Also make sure that the coach knows how to recognize and respond to concussions and will take your child out of play if a head injury happens.
Talk to your kids about never hiding a head injury. They should stop the sport or activity that caused the head injury and go to a parent, coach, or teacher right away.
Make sure kids wear a helmet when skiing, snowboarding, biking, riding a scooter, skateboarding, or rollerblading. A concussion can still happen, but the helmet can protect them from a skull fracture and serious brain injury.
Have kids wear any other protective gear specific to their sport.
Childproof your home so that young kids can’t pull furniture down on themselves or climb to high places. Put gates at the top and bottom of steps. Put window guards on windows and keep them closed and locked. Always supervise young children.
Use playgrounds that have soft ground surfaces like mulch (not dirt or concrete).