The CDC reports that incidence of concussionconcussion and traumatic brain injury increased by 70 percent over the last decade. Among individuals age 19 and younger, the increase has been almost 60 percent.

Most head injuries experienced by young athletes result from playing football or soccer, bicycling, hockey and basketball. Unfortunately, many of these injuries go undiagnosed or treated. In fact, almost 16 percent of high school football players who lose consciousness after a head injury return to play the same day!*

The majority of concussions occur in practice rather than during the game. And, although most parents attend their child’s sports competitions, few attend practices. You can help ensure that concussions don’t go unnoticed by knowing what to watch out for and teaching your child to be aware of their own symptoms.

Common signs of head injury include:

  • Headache or pressure
  • Memory or concentration problems
  • Clumsiness, dizziness or loss of balance
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Double or blurry vision
  • Sensitivity to light or noise
  • Confusion or dazed/stunned appearance
  • Inattentiveness
  • Difficulty speaking or slow to answer questions
  • Loss of consciousness

Most concussions do not involve the loss of consciousness, so it’s important to be on the lookout for other symptoms. Even a mild bump on the head can carry lifelong consequences.

Because the full effect of a head injury may not become evident until hours or days later, keep a close eye on your child for a week or more for developing symptoms. Danger signs that warrant emergency attention include:

  • One pupil larger than the other
  • Increase in headache severity
  • Slurred speech
  • Convulsions or seizures
  • Numbness or weakness
  • Won’t wake up
  • Restlessness, agitation or confusion
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Any change in behavior, thinking or physical function

After an injury, follow your doctor’s instructions for treatment, aftercare and rest.

Remember that brain injuries take time to heal. Depending on the severity of the concussion, you child should be allowed to resume a reduced level of activity in the near future, gradually increasing the intensity level until they’re ready to return to practice and competition.

Fortunately, most young athletes recover quickly and fully from a concussion with a prompt diagnosis, treatment, aftercare and rest.

The CDC has published a helpful parents’ guide to concussion in young athletes. You can read more here.

If your child has experienced a head injury, seek the attention of a concussion-trained sports medicine specialist immediately, for your child’s future health and well-being as well as your peace-of-mind.