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If you believe your child needs immediate attention and you have concerns for a life-threatening emergency, call 911. Not sure what counts as urgent and what's an emergency when your child is sick or injured? When it can't wait, know where to take your kids.
A concussion is a mild injury to the brain caused by a significant blow or jolt to the head or neck that temporarily disrupts how the brain normally works. Children often bump or hit their heads without getting a concussion, so parents should monitor their child for development of symptoms after this type of injury. It is important to know that a child does not need to be "knocked out" or lose consciousness to have experienced a concussion. Studies show that only about 10% of all sport-related concussions involve loss of consciousness.
A traumatic brain injury (TBI) is an injury to the brain from some type of outside force, such as a fall, collision or blow to the head. TBI ranges in severity from mild to severe. Concussions are classified as types of mild TBIs. Even though a concussion might be called a "mild" injury, parents and caregivers still must take it seriously because it is an injury to the brain.
Below are a few ways that medical professionals can determine the severity of a TBI:
A moderate-severe TBI is a more significant injury than a concussion and should be addressed differently in the home, school and community. A moderate-severe TBI often causes a loss of consciousness, as well as memory loss for several hours to days or weeks.
Children who experience a moderate-severe TBI often need hospitalization and will likely have abnormal findings on brain imaging. Although children with a mild TBI or concussion typically heal in a few days to weeks, individuals who have a moderate-severe TBI often take longer to recover and are likely to require increased support, supervision and overall care for months or longer.
Concussions are common in collision sports such as hockey, football and lacrosse, but it's important to remember that young athletes can get concussions in any sport. Activities that include high speeds and contact or collision with opponents increase the risk of getting a concussion.
Athletes are not the only ones susceptible to concussions. Any child can get a concussion while doing everyday activities like riding bikes or scooters or playing on the playground.
For immediate medical attention, CALL 911.
Serious medical problems after a mild head injury are rare, but they can occur. For this reason, a healthcare provider should always be involved in a child or teen's care after a concussion.
In the first one to two days after the injury, you should watch your child closely for worsening or severe symptoms. You can give acetaminophen (Tylenol) for headaches, but no other medications should be given during this time without a healthcare provider's approval. You should get IMMEDIATE medical help if your child has any of the following:
Signs and symptoms of a concussion can vary greatly. Most young people will recover completely from a concussion within a few weeks of injury. But, some youth can take longer to recover than others.
Common signs of concussion in children include:
Reasons to consider seeing a concussion specialist include:
As part of the Concussion Program at Children's Colorado, evaluation of a child with a suspected concussion may include:
If your child is diagnosed with a concussion, we'll help develop a treatment plan to address school issues, support recovery and manage changes in behavior. Experts from our Concussion Program will also provide referrals to specialists in education, physical therapy, behavioral health, neurology and other medical areas when needed.
Our Concussion Program evaluates and treats children and teenagers who have had concussions and other types of mild traumatic brain injuries.
A concussion can be scary and stressful for both you and your child. It's important to remember that most symptoms will last for only a short time. The following suggestions should be helpful as your child is healing from the concussion:
At Children's Colorado, we see thousands of children and teens each year who have suffered a concussion. Our Concussion Program includes a comprehensive range of services from medical consultation and appointments for concussions, to helping students return to school and academics, to helping decide when athletes can return to playing sports.
We are also national leaders in concussion research. As experts in the field, we are actively involved in several projects aimed to advance our understanding of how youth athletes recover from a concussion, and the best ways they can fully heal after an injury.
For questions or to schedule an appointment with the Concussion Program, call 720-777-2806.
Recognizing the unique challenges faced by students recovering from a concussion, Children's Colorado Concussion Comeback Plan was developed as a comprehensive resource to help parents and teachers guide students back into the school environment. This plan will help you understand concussions, assign a comeback coordinator, support the student, monitor the student and identify signs that a student may need a consult with a healthcare provider.
Concussions and helmet safety