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Signs of a Concussion in a ChildMedically reviewed by Angelo Ciminiello, M.D.

Though common, not many people know the signs of concussions in children, which causes many cases to go unnoticed.  Because children’s brains are still developing, they’re more at risk of experiencing severe side effects from getting a concussion, especially if that concussion goes undiagnosed or the child receives multiple concussions.

What is a Concussion?

A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury caused by a blow to the head or a hard hit to the body that makes the head quickly snap backward or forward. These hits cause the brain to bounce or twist in the skull, changing the brain’s chemicals and stretching or damaging brain cells.

Concussions can commonly occur while playing sports, and children can also get a concussion from a hard fall, a car or bicycle accident, or being in a fight. 

Concussions are serious injuries. While not normally life-threatening, you should be aware of the possible serious side effects that can occur.


Signs of a Concussion in a Child

The first sign of a concussion in a child is an accident. If your child has been struck on the head or taken a fall and presents any of the following symptoms, they might have a concussion. Signs may include: 

  • Headache
  • Blurred Vision
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Slurred Speech
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Memory Loss
  • Fatigue 
  • Slow Speech

Some symptoms, like a worsening headache or trouble sleeping, can show up hours after the accident. If a child is reinjured before fully healing from a concussion, they risk longer lasting and more serious side effects.


Caring for Concussions in Children

Children heal from concussions at their own speed. Generally, they should start to feel better and begin to return to their normal activities after a few weeks. During the first days after a concussion, your child should avoid physical activity and remain at home doing calm tasks and avoiding screens as much as possible. If you have a teenager, they shouldn’t drive during this time either. You should also make sure that your child is sleeping enough and has a regular sleep schedule.

After the first few days, your child can begin to do light activities, such as going for a walk or watching a movie. They can also return to school if they are feeling better. If your child continues to improve, they can slowly move into doing more moderate activities. These include almost all activities except for those that could cause another concussion. Once their symptoms are primarily gone, your child should be able to return to their regular activities. Make sure you consult with your child’s neurologist and pediatrician  before taking this step. Make regular checkups with your physician a priority to ensure there are no relapses. 


Warning Signs of Concussions in Children

While most children should fully recover from a concussion, there are instances when a concussion is more serious. If your child has suffered an especially severe concussion or had multiple concussions, their recovery may be complicated. If you notice any of these signs in your child, call your child’s neurologist and pediatrician as soon as possible: 

  • Extreme tiredness or an inability to wake up.
  • A persistent headache that won’t go away. 
  • Numbness.
  • Decreased coordination.
  • Constant vomiting or nausea.
  • Seizures or convulsions.
  • One pupil is larger than the other.
  • Ongoing unusual behavior.
  • Any loss of consciousness. 

If you suspect, or are unsure if your child has a concussion, contact your child’s neurologist or pediatrician immediately.

Contact us today to learn more or to make an appointment.