Make no mistake: Concussions are serious injuries.

With the start of football season fast approaching, this is a good time to talk about concussions and taking precautions to prevent them. Of course, it’s not just football players who get concussions; anyone participating in a contact sport is at risk. So are cyclists who might be involved in an accident. But the injury isn’t confined to sports: For older adults, falling and automobile accidents are common causes of concussion.

What is a concussion?

A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury—or TBI—caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or by a hit to the body that causes the head and brain to move rapidly back and forth. This sudden movement can cause the brain to bounce around or twist in the skull, creating chemical changes in the brain and sometimes stretching and damaging brain cells.

Concussions are serious.

Medical providers may describe a concussion as a “mild” brain injury because concussions are usually not life-threatening. Even so, the effects of a concussion can be serious.

Signs and symptoms

Signs and symptoms generally show up soon after the injury. However, you may not know how serious the injury is at first and some symptoms may not show up for hours or days. For example, in the first few minutes your child or teen might be a little confused or a bit dazed, but an hour later your child might not be able to remember how he or she got hurt.

You should continue to check for signs of concussion right after the injury and a few days after the injury. If your child or teen’s concussion signs or symptoms get worse, you should take him or her to the emergency department right away.

Concussion signs observed:

  • Can’t recall events prior toor after a hit or fall.
  • Appears dazed or stunned.
  • Forgets an instruction, is confused about an assignment or position, or is unsure of the game, score, or opponent.
  • Moves clumsily.
  • Answers questions slowly.
  • Loses consciousness (even briefly).
  • Shows mood, behavior, or personality changes.

Concussion symptoms reported:

  • Headache or “pressure” in head.
  • Nausea or vomiting.
  • Balance problems or dizziness, or double or blurry vision.
  • Bothered by light or noise.
  • Feeling sluggish, hazy, foggy, or groggy.
  • Confusion, or concentration or memory problems.
  • Just not “feeling right,” or “feeling down”.

HEADS UP

HEADS UP Concussion prevention program is a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)-sponsored program that works to provide trainings and resources centered on concussion prevention in youth sports and activities for children of all ages. Keeping children and teens healthy and safe is always a top priority. Whether parent, youth sports coach, school coach, school professional, or health care provider, the CDC’s HEADS UP website will help you recognize, respond to, and minimize the risk of concussion or other serious brain injury.

For more information on HEADS UP, visit the CDC website.

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