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Health Tips for Parents


Health Tips for Parents

2011 Issues

How dangerous are concussions?


HT-Jan 2011-Atheletes and CuncussionsYoung athletes who play contact sports such as football, hockey or wrestling are at the highest risk, although concussions occur in all types of sports, including soccer, basketball, gymnastics, water polo, cycling and even baseball and softball.

A concussion is a traumatic brain injury resulting in neurological dysfunction caused by a bump or blow to the head. It may or may not involve a loss of consciousness.

Recent studies show a link between neurological damage and multiple concussions in college and professional athletes, and parents and coaches of youth athletes should exercise caution whenever a child receives a blow to the head that results in neurological symptoms. Any child suspected of sustaining a concussion should be immediately removed from play and not returned until cleared by a qualified healthcare provider with experience in concussions, says Christopher Giza, M.D., a pediatric neurologist at UCLA.

Dangers and risks. Although most concussions are not life threatening, children should be protected from head blows as much as possible — especially since younger athletes have potential for greater exposure to multiple concussions over time. Because young brains are still growing and making connections, there is some evidence that concussions may interfere with brain development.

Children and adolescents who play organized team sports have an increasing risk for concussion, with emergency room visits for concussions between 1997 and 2007 doubling for those aged 8-14 years, and increasing even more for those aged 14-19.

Athletes who have received a concussion are three times more likely to suffer another concussion. According to Dr. Giza, subsequent concussions are likely to be longer lasting and more severe. Young athletes — who include a wide range of abilities and talents — may be more vulnerable to concussion than professional or college athletes.

What do I do if my child suffers a concussion?

  1. Remove your child from the game.
  2. Have your child evaluated by a qualified healthcare professional.
  3. Do not return your child to play until he or she is symptom-free.
  4. Tell your child’s teacher and coach about the concussion.

Signs of concussion

HT-Jan 2011- CuncussionsWhile some symptoms can appear right after an injury, others may develop minutes or hours afterwards. Most concussion symptoms resolve spontaneously over 7-14 days.

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Clumsiness
  • Behavior or personality changes
  • Blurry vision
  • Sensitivity to light or noise
  • Balance problems
  • Memory or concentration problems
  • Loss of consciousness (even brief)


This information is provided courtesy of the pediatricians at Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA. UCLA Health pediatricians are conveniently located in your neighborhood. In addition to our Children’s Health Center in Westwood, we have offices in Brentwood, Manhattan Beach, Santa Monica and West Los Angeles. All health and health-related information contained in this publication is intended to be general in nature and should not be used as a substitute for a visit with a healthcare professional.

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