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Concussion is a type of mild brain injury. It occurs after a bump, blow or jolt to the head which cause chemical changes in the brain, and sometimes damage to the brain cells. Most concussions happen whilst playing sports, but can also happen from car or bicycle accidents, fights, or falls. Concussions generally don’t show up on CT or MRI scans, so are diagnosed based on your child’s symptoms and examination findings.
For most children, concussion is a minor event that has no lasting side effects but for some children, the effects can last several weeks or even longer.
Your child may have been knocked out (called a loss of consciousness), however you don’t have to get knocked out to have a concussion. Symptoms of a concussion usually happen right away, but can show up hours or days after an injury.
Signs and symptoms of a concussion include:
If your child:
Phone 999 for an ambulance or go straight to the nearest A&E department.
If a child or young person has had a concussion it is important that they have rest (both mental and physical) and don’t do anything that might worsen their symptoms.
For the first 24 to 48 hours your child will need to be watched closely and should have complete brain rest. This means no activities, sports, reading, TV, games, tablets and phones.
After this it is recommended that your child has a graded return to sports, activities, and school using a step-wise approach. If symptoms come back during return to activities, your child will need to go back a step.
It is important that your child avoids sports or strenuous exercise for at least a week, and must avoid contact sports for at least 3 weeks to avoid the risk of getting a further injury, which could make your child seriously unwell.
If your child still has symptoms after 2 weeks, or you are unsure about returning to activities, make an appointment to see your child’s GP to discuss.
Step 1: Rest 24 to 48 hours off school.
Step 2: Preparing for going back to school.
Step 3: Return to school part-time.
Step 4: Return to school full-time.
Step 5: Full return to school and day-to-day activities.
There should be a minimum of 24 hours between each step.
Step 1: Limited activity.
Step 2: Light activity and exercise.
Step 3: Return to sport-related exercise.
Step 4: Practice with the team, no contact training.
Step 5: Full contact practice.
Step 6: Return to sport.
To reduce the risk of further concussions, ensure that:
Children who get another head injury should never ignore symptoms or try to “tough it out.” They need to stop the sport or activity they are doing and get medical care right away.
This information is intended for patients receiving care in Brighton & Hove or Haywards Heath.
The information here is for guidance purposes only and is in no way intended to replace professional clinical advice by a qualified practitioner.
Publication Date: April 2022
Review Date: November 2024