Conditions + Treatments

Concussions in Children

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If you’re a fan of any professional sport, you've probably heard about someone suffering a concussion and having to sit out the next play, the rest of the game or even the remainder of the season. But did you know that concussions happen to plenty of non-athletes, too … and that they affect millions of children every year in the United States alone?

What is a concussion?

Concussions are traumatic brain injuries that result from the brain going into a spinning motion. This is most often because of a direct blow to the head, but can also be caused by a blow to the body that snaps the head forward or backward.

Sometimes, a concussion causes an immediate loss of consciousness, but a child can also appear fine at first and then have symptoms develop later.  The good news is that most concussions don’t cause any lasting effects, and most children make a complete recovery with physical and mental rest. Even when concussions lead to complications, advances in concussion diagnostics and treatment make the majority of cases very treatable.

If you suspect your child may have sustained a concussion, you should always seek treatment from a qualified medical professional right away. Even if the trauma your child experienced appeared very minor – for example, a collision during a game that he quickly got up and walked away from – and his symptoms don’t seem “serious,” it’s essential that he be evaluated by a doctor. 

How Boston Children’s Hospital approaches concussions

Boston Children’s has a long and distinguished history of caring for children with complex diseases and disorders of the brain, spine and central nervous system. Clinicians in our Department of Neurology and Department of Neurosurgery are regarded as international leaders in treating conditions that range from rare syndromes to relatively common injuries like concussions.

In addition, Boston Children’s Sports Medicine Division is at the forefront of advocating for greater understanding of – and better treatments for – concussions and other head injuries sustained during athletics. Student-athletes are playing at higher levels of competition (and facing more pressure to return to play) than ever before. Recognizing that student-athletes of all ages are at elevated risk for concussions, the Division has established a Sports Concussion Clinic that:

•   uses a team approach to treat each child, involving specialists in sports medicine, neuropsychology, neurology,
    and neuroradiology
•   works with school districts across the Boston area to provide screenings and raise awareness of concussion
and risk factors among coaches, athletic trainers, parents and the athletes themselves

Here in the Sports Concussion Clinic, we use a computerized test called ImPACT (Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing) to obtain baseline evaluations of neurocognitive functioning (thinking, memory, concentration and information-processing abilities) in children who have sustained a concussion.

Learn more about ImPACT baseline testing.

Concussion prevention educational videos

•   NFL Concussion Grant interview with Dr. William Meehan (0:02:30)
•   Concussion Educational Video interview with Dr. Michael O’Brien (0:05:48)
•   Tackling Concussions Head On with Dr. Mark Proctor (1:00:09)

In the News

Experts debate: How many concussions are too many for an athlete?
STAT, January 11, 2015

How to Prevent Concussions
U. S. News, November 18, 2015

The Truth About Concussions
U.S. News, November 10, 2015

We are grateful to have been ranked #1 on U.S. News & World Report's list of the best children's hospitals in the nation for the third year in a row, an honor we could not have achieved without the patients and families who inspire us to do our very best for them. Thanks to you, Boston Children's is a place where we can write the greatest children's stories ever told.”
- Sandra L. Fenwick, President and CEO

Boston Children's Hospital 300 Longwood Avenue, Boston, MA 02115 617-355-6000 | 800-355-7944