Concussion in Children: When To Worry

Concussions are a type of mild traumatic brain injury that children can receive as a result of falling off a bike while not wearing a helmet, bumping heads while playing sports or by other means of physical contact.

Concussions occur when a blow to the head or body causes the head to move back and forth with a lot of force.  This sudden change of direction may cause the brain to collide with the inside of the skull, and result in a minor injury to the brain.  These types of injuries to the brain can change the way nerves communicate and lead to concussion symptoms.

Symptoms of a concussion vary in severity and can include headaches, dizziness, problems with memory or concentration, nausea or blurry vision. Some symptoms may begin immediately, while others may appear days after the injury. Symptoms can last anywhere from a few days to up to four weeks; therefore, parents should keep a watchful eye.

If your child displays mild symptoms such as a headache or neck pain, you should consult a physician.  Your doctor may request a full neurological exam. If the concussion is determined to be mild, cognitive and physical rest for the first 24 hours and a gradual return to routine activities are usually recommended.

After 24 hours, your child may be able to complete simple tasks such as doing homework.  However, if symptoms develop while performing these tasks, allow them to stop and rest then try again in a few hours. Sports should be avoided until symptoms have completely resolved and your child has been reevaluated by their doctor. Screen time should also be avoided because activities such as playing video games or watching TV can make symptoms worse.

Mild concussions typically heal in a few days to a few weeks but if symptoms worsen or persist for more than four weeks,  your child needs to be taken to the emergency room for further evaluation to rule out more serious causes for their symptoms.

Please keep in mind that children should be taken to the ER immediately if they are displaying symptoms such as headaches that will not go away, seizures, loss of consciousness, persistent vomiting, excessive crying or slurred speech.  These symptoms are severe and require urgent medical care.

To avoid concussions, children should always wear seat belts in the car and helmets while riding bikes. Children who participate in sports should be encouraged to follow safe sports techniques.

To speak with a Family Medicine doctor about concussions, please call (718) 206-6942.

Dr. Navdeep Kaur; Family Medicine Physician

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.