To help ensure the health and safety of young athletes, CDC developed the HEADS UP Concussion in Youth Sports initiative to offer information about concussions to coaches, parents, and athletes involved in youth sports. The HEADS UP initiative provides important information on preventing, recognizing, and responding to a concussion.
A child or teen with a concussion needs to be seen by a medical provider. If you think your child or teen has a concussion, contact his or her health care provider. Be sure to get written concussion care instructions from the health care provider.
If the concussion happens while playing sports, you should also:
- Remove the child from play.
- Keep the child out of play the day of the injury and until a medical provider, experienced in evaluating for concussion, says he or she is symptom-free and it’s OK to return to play.
Children or teens who return to play too soon—while the brain is still healing—risk a greater chance of having a repeat concussion. Repeat or later concussions can be very serious. They can cause permanent brain damage, affecting your child for a lifetime.
Seek Medical Care
Most kids and teens are treated in the emergency department or in a medical office after a concussion and get to go home. However, when the injury is more serious, your child or teen may need to stay in the hospital overnight.
What to Tell the Medical Provider
Be sure to tell the medical provider if your child or teen is taking medications—prescription, over-the-counter medicines, or “natural remedies.” When possible, also write down and share the following information:
- Cause of the injury and force of the hit or blow to the head or body
- Any loss of consciousness (passed out/knocked out) and if so, for how long
- Any memory loss right after the injury
- Any seizures right after the injury
- Number of previous concussions (if any)
Tests for Concussion & Brain Injury
Your child or teen’s medical provider may do a scan of his or her brain (such as a CT scan) to look for signs of a more serious brain injury. Other tests such as “neuropsychological” or “neurocognitive” tests may also be performed. These tests help assess your child or teen’s learning and memory skills, the ability to pay attention or concentrate, and how quickly he or she can think and solve problems. These tests can help the child’s medical provider identify the effects of the concussion.
Get Written Concussion Care Instructions
Ask for written instructions from the young athlete’s health care provider on return to play. These instructions should include information about when they can return to play and what steps you should take to help them safely return to play. Before returning to play an athlete should:
- Be back to doing their regular school activities.
- Not have any symptoms from the injury when doing normal activities.
- Have the green-light from their health care provider to begin the return to play process.