Division of Sports Medicine
Frequently asked questions (FAQs)
William Meehan, MD, Director of the Sports Concussion Clinic at Boston Children's Hospital, provides answers to parents' most common questions about concussions.
A recent flurry of media attention about concussions has heightened awareness about their potentially serious short- and long-term effects and raised concerns in young athletes, their parents and coaches.
What causes a concussion?
Concussions are mild traumatic brain injuries that occur after a rapid acceleration of the brain. This typically happens when a person is struck in the head, but it can also occur if an athlete is hit on the facemask or chest, causing the head to snap forward or backward.
What are the symptoms of a concussion?
Symptoms include headaches, nausea, vomiting and a sense of being out-of-it or feeling foggy.
Most young athletes don't recognize their symptoms as a concussion. Parents can look for signs, like their child being slow to respond verbally, being off-balance and looking spaced-out or glassy-eyed. The bottom line is if you suspect your child has a concussion, he or she should see a doctor. It's critical that patients are evaluated after sustaining a concussion.
It's very important that the patient isn't cleared to return to sports until normal brain function has returned, which we can assess through neurological testing, since a second concussion is more likely and, in rare cases, can be fatal.
Is there genuine cause for worry?
Most kids, if their concussions are managed properly and they don't go back into risky situations until they're recovered, will be fine. Typically, children fully recover from a sports-related concussion within 10 days and will regain normal brain function and do just as well at sports and school as they always did. However, some patients take months to recover completely, and children who get a second concussion before fully recovering from the first are at risk for serious, long-term problems.
Concussion FAQ continues on the next two tabs above.
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