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Signs of a Concussion In Youth Athletes

What is a concussion?[1]

A concussion is a type of brain injury that can occur from a blow to the head, a blow to the body that causes a jerking motion of the head and brain, or fall resulting head impact. A concussion is a serious event requiring medical attention. Signs and symptoms of a concussion may present immediately following a head injury, or days or even weeks after initial injury.

Signs of a Concussion

  • Loss of consciousness:  A loss of consciousness is not required for a concussion diagnosis. However, if a child loses consciousness, they should be removed from sport until cleared to return by a physician.
  • Confusion:  A child may appear dazed, be confused about his/her position, or be unsure of the score.
  • Changes in memory: A child may forget events that happened directly preceding the incident, or may forget events that happened directly after.
  • Reported changes in vision:  A child may report double vision, sensitivity to light, or blurry vision.
  • Balance problems:  A child may report balance issues or dizziness; a parent or coach may observe an increase in clumsiness or falls
  • Changes in activity level:  A child may report feeling sluggish or groggy; he/she may also report “not feeling right.”

Warning Signs of Emergent Injury

  • One pupil is larger than the other
  • Cannot recognize familiar faces
  • Child cannon be awakened
  • Unusual behavior
  • Worsening headache
  • Loses consciousness
  • Repeated vomiting or nausea
  • Weakness or numbness
  • Slurred speech
  • Becomes increasingly confused or agitated
  • Convulsions

If you see one or more of these signs, dial 9-1-1 or take the child to the emergency room immediately!

If you feel your child has had a concussion, it is recommended that they are cleared by a physician prior to return to sport. A physical therapist can help treat post-concussion symptoms, such as neck pain, balance deficits, and vision/vestibular issues. Please contact North Shore Pediatric Therapy for a return-to-sport physical therapy evaluation. 


[1] “Heads Up, Concussion in Youth Sports.” CDC. Center for Disease Control, n.d. Web.