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Concussion FAQs

Commonly asked questions about concussions and brain injuries

Brain injuries can range from mild to severe, so you might have a lot of questions about symptoms, treatment and recovery. We answer your top questions below

Is there a difference between a concussion and a traumatic brain injury (TBI)?

A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury 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. Concussions may be described as a "mild" brain injury, but the effects can be very serious.

Whether the brain injury is mild or severe, a child can experience long term effects from the damage to the brain.

What are the common symptoms of a concussion?

Concussion symptoms are unique to everyone. Even if your child has had a concussion before, their second concussion can present with different symptoms than the first. Here is a list of some of the most common symptoms you might see in your child.

What causes a concussion?

While concussions are often associated with playing sports, your child can sustain a concussion off the playing field as well. Other common causes of injury include falling, motor vehicle crashes, and physical altercations. In fact a concussion may occur from any forceful bump, blow or jolt to the head, neck or body that causes the brain to move rapidly inside the skull regardless of the activity.

Does my child need a CT scan if they have a concussion?

No, concussions are a functional injury, effecting how you think and feel, not a structural injury that you can see like a sprain. Thus, concussions are not seen on traditional imaging such as x-rays, MRIs and CT scans.

My kid wasn’t knocked out on impact, does that mean they don’t have a concussion?

No, they do not need to be knocked unconscious to have a concussion.

What do I need to tell my child’s pediatrician?

Report all their symptoms to no matter how minor. Your child’s treatment plan is developed specifically for them based on the signs and symptoms that they are experiencing. To optimize their recovery, make sure to disclose all symptoms.

Is it normal for symptoms to occur days after the brain injury?

While you may notice certain symptoms immediately after injury, others can go unnoticed for hours or even days. You may not know certain activities bother you until you begin to try them again. If you notice new symptoms develop over the course of your child’s recovery, consult us to make necessary adjustments to your treatment plan.

How long does it take to recover from a concussion?

The time it takes to recover from injury is different for every person, however, the majority of concussions will resolve within a few weeks after injury.

How can I make sure that my child recovers fully from a head injury?

Do not ignore their symptoms

Do not ignore their symptoms or simply try to "tough it out". Trying to do too much too fast can make your symptoms worse and prolong recovery. They can gradually progress back into your normal routine and activities as they recover. We will outline a timeline for when it is best to return to specific activities.

Get enough rest

Make sure you are getting plenty of rest and sleep to help the brain heal. If your sleeping habits have changed since your injury, discuss these with us, as they may be related to your concussion.

Find a quiet area to take breaks

Provide them with a quiet room or area to go to take a break. Difficulty concentrating is common after a concussion. Loud and distracting environments make it more difficult to focus or complete tasks. Giving them a quiet space to take a break or to complete these tasks can help maintain concentration.

Give them plenty of time

Give your child extra time to complete tasks. Some tasks may be more mentally and physically taxing than they were previous to your concussion. Make sure to plan extra rest breaks in their schedule.

Can my kid sleep after a concussion?

It is a common misconception that a person with a brain injury should not go to sleep and/or needs to be awakened throughout the night. Read more sleeping hygiene tips here.

When should I place my kid back into a sport or activity?

Children should never return to physical activity the day the injury happened.

If they continue to play while having concussion symptoms or who return to play too soon—while the brain is still healing—have a greater chance of getting another concussion and we want to prevent that from happening. We'll work with you to help your child to recover from the injury. Here is what you should know about concussions from sports and activities.

How can I make sure my child is able to return to school safely after a concussion?

It's a team effort! With you, your child's teachers, health care providers, counselors and more all working together, we can make sure your child returns to school safely. We've outlined some school protocol information to keep in mind.

Common symptoms

What signs and symptoms will my child have?

Concussion symptoms are unique to each individual, but there are common symptoms you should be aware of.

If you believe your child has a traumatic brain injury or concussion, call your child's doctor immediately.

Read common concussion symptoms
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What should I do if I think my child has a concussion?

If you suspect your child or teen has a concussion or brain injury, follow these steps:

  1. Seek medical attention right away by calling 804-628-4878 or 855-742-4878 (toll-free)
  2. Keep your child out of play
  3. Ask us for written instructions on helping your child return to school. You can give the instructions to your child’s school nurse and teacher(s) and return-to-play instructions to the coach and/or athletic trainer.
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