What is a concussion?
A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury. Concussions are caused by a bump or blow to the head. Even a “ding,” “getting your bell rung,” or what seems to be a mild bump or blow to the head can be serious. You can’t see a concussion. Signs and symptoms of concussion can show up right after the injury or may not appear or be noticed until days or weeks after the injury. If your child reports any symptoms of concussion, or if you notice the symptoms yourself, seek medical attention right away.
What are the signs and symptoms of a concussion?
If your child has experienced a bump or blow to the head during a game or practice, look for any of the following
signs of a concussion:
Symptoms reported by athlete:
- Headache or “pressure” in head
- Nausea or vomiting
- Balance problems or dizziness
- Double or blurry vision
- Sensitivity to light
- Sensitivity to noise
- Feeling sluggish, hazy, foggy, or groggy
- Concentration or memory problems
- Just not “feeling right” or is “feeling down”
Signs observed by parents/guardians:
- Appears dazed or stunned
- Is confused about assignment or position
- Forgets an instruction
- Is unsure of game, score, or opponent
- Moves clumsily
- Answers questions slowly
- Loses consciousness (even briefly)
- Shows mood, behavior, or personality changes
Be alert for symptoms that worsen over time. Your child or teen should be seen in an emergency department right
away if she/he has:
- One pupil (the black part in the middle of the eye) larger than the other
- Drowsiness or cannot be awakened
- A headache that gets worse and does not go away
- Weakness, numbness, or decreased coordination
- Repeated vomiting or nausea
- Slurred speech
- Convulsions or seizures
- Difficulty recognizing people or places
- Increasing confusion, restlessness, or agitation
- Unusual behavior
- Loss of consciousness (even a brief loss of consciousness should be taken seriously)
How can you help your child prevent a concussion?
- Ensure that they follow their coach’s rules for safety and the rules of the sport.
- Encourage them to practice good sportsmanship at all times.
- Make sure they wear the right protective equipment for their activity. Protective equipment should fit properly and be well maintained.
- Wearing a helmet is a must to reduce the risk of a serious brain injury or skull fracture.
- However, helmets are not designed to prevent concussions. There is no “concussion-proof” helmet. So, even with a helmet, it is important for kids and teens to avoid hits to the head.
Baseline Testing (Suggested):
Athletes (12 years of age and older) participating in alpine ski racing should receive a baseline cognitive ImPACT test. It is recommended athletes also establish baselines using tests such as the Balance Error Scoring System (BESS), the Standardized Assessment of Concussions (SAC), or other standardized assessment tests at least once during their career. Baseline tests shall be utilized by a qualified health-care professional trained in the evaluation and management of concussion and who has received training in interpreting the test results to aid in the evaluation and treatment of all injured athletes exhibiting cognitive deficits.
What should you do if you think your child has a concussion?
- Removal from activity - If at any time it is suspected an athlete has sustained a concussion, the youth athlete shall be immediately removed from activity and not be allowed to return the same day. Once removed an athlete shall not be allowed to return until authorized by a qualified health-care professional.
- Communication - Contact the athlete’s parent/guardian as soon as possible to inform them of the potential injury and give them the factsheet on concussion provided online by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Communicate the injury to the alpine director in a timely fashion.
- Monitor - Continue monitoring the athlete for other signs and symptoms, as well as for symptom severity, until parent/guardian or health-care professional arrives.
- Ensure a Medical Evaluation - If not an emergency, ensure the injured athlete is evaluated by a proper medical professional. DO NOT try to judge the seriousness of the injury yourself. Coaches should seek assistance from the ski patrol or other appropriate medical personnel. If a medical provider is not available, ensure that the parents or guardians of the athlete follow-up with an appropriate medical provider.
- Role in Return to activity
- Ensure the athlete has been cleared by a health-care professional before returning to any physical activity.
Additional Resources and Educational Material:
- CDC Concussion Resources - http://www.cdc.gov/HeadsUp/index.html
For more information, please visit the CDC’s “Heads Up” website.