Health / Health conditions

Kids' Concussions: What You Should Know

girl wearing a sports jersey holding her head

Each year, hundreds of thousands of children—from grade-school kids who crash their bikes to teenage athletes who collide in midair— hit their heads hard enough to sustain a concussion.

Still, experts say, most concussions are not life-threatening. While every concussion is serious, most kids eventually get better with treatment. However, it’s important to take time to recover. If you don't, you have a greater chance of getting another concussion. A repeat concussion that occurs while the brain is still healing from the first injury can be very serious and can affect you for a lifetime. 

What Parents Can Do

Suspect your child might have a concussion? Follow these four steps:

  1. Take them out of the game.
    A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury, so if there's any question at all, pull them to the sideline. Your child doesn't have to be knocked out—or even have trouble walking—to have a concussion. The signs can be more subtle. Only about 10% of people with concussions lose consciousness.
  2. Look for signs and symptoms.
    Concussion symptoms vary and may take up to 24 hours to become apparent. Possible signs and symptoms include a dazed look, confusion, dizziness, forgetfulness, headaches, nausea, tiredness, irritability, and depression. “Fogginess” is common, as is sensitivity to light or noise.
  3. See your doctor.
    If a concussion is suspected, it's important that your child see a healthcare professional right away. If serious symptoms are immediately obvious, head for the emergency room.
  4. Don't rush. The latest research suggests that concussion treatment should be gradual and customized, according to symptoms. While many of those who suffer a concussion miss school, others return to class right away. The key: Listen to your child's doctor and know that concussions don't heal overnight.

Learn more about concussions on the CDC’s Heads Up website.

Consider Concussion Baseline Testing

Talk with your child’s doctor about concussion baseline testing by a trained healthcare professional. This pre-season exam is used to assess an athlete’s balance and brain function as well as look for symptoms of concussions.

If an athlete receives a concussion during the season, they would take the exam again, and their results would be compared to the baseline test. This helps healthcare professionals identify the effects of the concussion and make more informed decisions. Learn more in these FAQs.