Concussions and Injury Prevention
A concussion is a brain injury. Concussions are caused by a bump or blow to the head. Even a “ding,” “getting your bell rung,” or what seems to be a mild bump or blow to the head can be serious.
You can’t see a concussion. Signs and symptoms of concussion can show up right after the injury or may not appear or be noticed until days or weeks after the injury. If your child reports any symptoms of concussion, or if you notice the symptoms yourself, seek medical attention right away.
Concussions can occur in any sport or recreation activity. So all coaches, parents and athletes need to learn concussion signs and symptoms and what to do if a concussion occurs. The following tips, from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, can help you keep your child safe.
The Signs and Symptoms of a Concussion
Signs Observed by Parents or Guardians
If your child has experienced a bump or blow to the head or body during a game, practice or other activity, look for any of these:
• Appears dazed or stunned
• Is confused about assignment or position
• Forgets an instruction
• Is unsure of game, score or opponent
• Moves clumsily
• Answers questions slowly
• Loses consciousness (even briefly)
• Shows behavior or personality changes
• Can’t recall events prior to hit or fall
• Can’t recall events after hit or fall
Symptoms Reported by Athlete
• Headache or “pressure” in head
• Nausea or vomiting
• Balance problems or dizziness
• Double or blurry vision
• Sensitivity to light
• Sensitivity to noise
• Feeling sluggish, hazy, foggy or groggy
• Concentration or memory problems
• Does not “feel right”
How to Help Your Child Prevent a Concussion
Every sport and activity is different, but there are steps your children can take to protect themselves from concussion.
• Ensure that they follow their coach’s rules for safety and the rules of the sport.
• Encourage them to practice good sportsmanship at all times.
• Make sure they wear the right protective equipment for their activity (such as helmets, padding, shin guards, and eye and mouth guards). Protective equipment should fit properly, be well maintained, and be worn consistently and correctly.
• Learn the signs and symptoms of a concussion.
What You Should Do If You Think Your Child Has a Concussion
1. Seek medical attention right away. A healthcare professional will be able to decide how serious the concussion is and when it is safe for your child to return to sports.
2. Keep your child out of play. Concussions take time to heal. Don’t let your child return to play until a healthcare professional says it’s OK. Children who return to play too soon—while the brain is still healing—risk a greater chance of having a second concussion. Concussions that occur after the first concussion can be very serious. They can cause permanent brain damage, affecting your child for a lifetime.
3. Tell your child’s coach about any recent concussion. Coaches should know if your child had a recent concussion in ANY sport. Your child’s coach may not know about a concussion your child received in another sport or activity unless you tell the coach.
What’s the New Tennessee Youth Sports Concussion Law?
In April 2013, Tennessee passed a youth sports concussion law designed to reduce youth sports concussions and increase awareness of traumatic brain injury.
- Requires coaches, youth athletes and their parents to sign a concussion information form before competing
- Requires removal of a youth athlete who appears to have suffered a concussion from play or practice at the time of the suspected concussion
- Requires a youth athlete to be cleared by a licensed healthcare professional before returning to play or practice
The law covers public and private school sports, as well as recreational leagues for children under age 18 that require a fee. All sports are covered.
Get the Required Forms
Find the required forms that parents, athletes and coaches must sign under the new sports concussion law.
Safety Ratings for Leagues
A new rating system called the Safe Stars Initiative allows parents to check and see if youth sports leagues in Tennessee follow state-recommended safety procedures.
Coaches and parents can encourage their sports leagues to join the initiative and boost the commitment to safety in youth sports.
Visit the Tennessee Department of Health to get more information on the Safe Stars Initiative.
Need More Info?
The Traumatic Brain Injury Program was established by the Tennessee General Assembly to address the needs of individuals who have sustained a brain injury, as well as the needs of their family members and primary caregivers.
Project BRAIN provides local resource teams for schools, in partnership with the Tennessee Disability Coalition and local hospitals, to train educators, families and health professionals who support students with TBIs. The project’s mission is to improve educational outcomes for children with brain injuries in Tennessee.
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Learn other injury prevention tips.