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Participating in sports and play

Playing sports and other activities: What you should know

While playing sports and participating in activities like PE class, skateboarding, skating, bicycling and riding scooters, kids are at a higher risk for experiencing head trauma. Knowing the symptoms, the steps you should take and when they can return to normal physical activities can help make sure that your child is fully healed.

Our top priority is making sure your child is safe. If a concussion occurs during play, we'll be here for you and your family.

Students should not be allowed to return to their activities until a healthcare professional experienced in evaluating for concussion says they are symptom-free and it’s OK to return to play.

This means, until permitted, not returning to

  • PE class
  • Sports practices or games
  • Physical activity at recess

How can I spot a concussion?

Children who show or report one or more of the signs and symptoms listed below—or simply say they just “don’t feel right” after a bump, blow or jolt to the head or body—may have a concussion or other serious brain injury. 

Look for these signs:

  • Appears dazed or stunned
  • Is confused about events
  • Answers questions slowly
  • Repeats questions
  • Can’t recall events prior to the hit, bump or fall
  • Can’t recall events after the hit, bump or fall
  • Loses consciousness (even briefly)
  • Shows behavior or personality changes
  • Forgets an instruction or assignment

Kids often report feeling these symptoms:

  • Headache or “pressure” in head
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Balance problems or dizziness
  • Blurry or double vision
  • Sensitivity to light or noise
  • Feeling sluggish, hazy, foggy or groggy
  • Difficulty concentrating or remembering
  • Just not “feeling right” or “feeling down” 

Can concussions happen only from playing team sports?

Concussions can be caused by other activities like riding a bike or a skateboard. In fact, nearly 50 children are admitted to an emergency department every hour from injuries related to skating, skateboarding, biking and riding a scooter. Wearing a helmet, and other protective gear, can help keep your child safe after a fall. Read more tips about helmet safety here.

When can they return to playing sports?

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

Kids and teens who 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. A repeat concussion that occurs while the brain is still healing from the first injury can be very serious and can affect them for a lifetime.

We will work with you to develop a plan that will help your child return to normal activities, including written instructions on helping your child return to school. You can give the instructions to their school nurse and teacher(s) and return-to-play instructions to the coach and/or athletic trainer.

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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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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Understanding concussions

Frequently asked questions about brain injuries

We understand as a parent you might have a lot of questions around brain injuries. How do I know how severe the brain injury is? When can my child return to sports? How can I make sure they recover safely?


We answer your top questions here
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