What to Do If You Suspect a Concussion

Concussions pose a serious threat to the developing brains of children and adolescents. Unfortunately, there is no single sign or symptom that positively indicates that a concussion has occurred.

The most important thing to remember about treating children and student athletes who have sustained a blow to the head is that a loss of consciousness for more than five minutes requires immediate transport to a hospital.

If there is no loss of consciousness, watch for changes in behavior and evidence of post-traumatic amnesia. No athlete should return to play when a concussion is suspected. Instead, the child should be seen by a health care professional trained in concussion management before engaging in sports or recreational activities that could result in an additional head injury.

Concussions that occur during youth sports can be difficult to treat because there currently is no consensus within the sports medicine community about the most appropriate guidelines for treatment and recommendations on when a child can return to his or her normal physical activities. When in doubt, the safest course of action is to have the child seen as soon as possible by a health care professional with concussion evaluation experience.

The CDC recommends a collaborative approach to help a child or teenager return to school, sports, and recreational activities following a concussion. Health care professionals, parents, school professionals (including administrators, counselors, and coaches) and other students can all assist with the transition process. Coaches and teachers should monitor the child for the reappearance or worsening of concussion symptoms and take appropriate action if necessary.

Published on: April 11, 2014
About the Author
Photo of Tiana Tucker

Tiana Tucker is the community manager for the online nursing program produced by the School of Nursing & Health Studies at Georgetown University. You can read the stories from nurse practitioner students she's written on the program's blog.

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