Sports Concussion and Traumatic Brain Injury

Our specialists provide comprehensive care for concussions and traumatic brain injuries in children. We continually research and implement leading-edge treatments.

Children playing football
Injured American football player laying on a grass

UCLA Health approach to pediatric traumatic brain injuries

The specialists on our pediatric concussion and traumatic brain injury (TBI) team provide comprehensive care for children of all ages. We also research new techniques and engage in community outreach to increase awareness of concussion and TBI. Multiple specialists work together to offer your child holistic treatment.

Highlights of our program include:

Comprehensive care: Our specialists evaluate all the ways in which TBI affects your child, including lingering symptoms such as headaches. This thorough assessment aims to increase your child’s long-term quality of life.

National contributions: Our team includes multiple specialists who are experts in their field. In fact, we have contributed to national guidelines for concussion treatment, including standards set by the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Research-driven treatment: Our clinical providers are also active researchers. We continually learn and implement the newest therapies. Eligible patients may benefit from access to clinical trials.

Our areas of care

Our specialists care for children with all types of traumatic brain injury and athletes with concussions. Our areas of care include:

Pediatric TBI Clinic

This clinic offers comprehensive care for children with traumatic brain injury of any severity. We also care for children who have lingering symptoms of TBI, such as headaches or difficulty concentrating.

Our physicians offer comprehensive neurological exams, as well as neuropsychological testing. For athletes, we also provide computerized baseline and follow-up neurocognitive testing. We can refer patients to multiple specialists as needed, including:

  • Neuroimaging specialists
  • Neurorehabilitation specialists
  • Orthopaedists
  • Spine specialists
  • Sports medicine providers 

UCLA Steve Tisch BrainSPORT Program

Our specialists also care for children through the UCLA Steve Tisch BrainSPORT program, treating concussions that occur during athletics and recreation. This comprehensive assessment and treatment program works with local schools to provide exceptional research-based care.

UCLA Health concussion experts helped develop the AAN and CDC concussion treatment recommendations, which are now standards of care. Our team includes:

  • Neurologists
  • Neuropsychologists
  • Occupational therapists
  • Dietitians

The BrainSPORT program is one of only a few of its kind in the country that includes the expertise of both neurologists and neuropsychologists. To find out more about our services, call 425-651-2641 or email [email protected]

Brain Injury Research Center

Our specialists engage in community outreach for traumatic brain injuries and sports concussions. We hold educational sessions for the community, athletic trainers, school administrators and other physicians.

We also research pediatric TBI and related issues. Our doctors participate in the National Sports Concussion Outcomes Study (NSCOS), a nationwide study that follows athletes of all ages to evaluate the long-term effects of concussion.

What is a traumatic brain injury? 

A traumatic brain injury is a sudden injury that damages your brain. It often occurs because of a violent blow or jolt to the head.

A concussion is a type of TBI. It occurs when a hit to the body causes the brain to bounce or move within the skull. These sudden brain movements lead to chemical changes in your brain and potential brain damage. Concussions aren’t usually life-threatening, but they are serious.  

We treat all types of pediatric TBI, including sports concussions and ongoing symptoms of TBI such as:

  • Concentration and memory problems
  • Headaches
  • Irritability
  • Problems sleeping
  • Seizures
  • Sensitivity to noise and light

Treatments for TBI in children

Our neurologists provide a range of therapies for traumatic brain injuries and concussions, including:  

Brief cognitive behavioral therapy: Working with a therapist short-term after head trauma has been shown to reduce the severity of TBI symptoms. A therapist can also help children and adolescents work through anxiety or depression after a brain injury.

Dietary changes: Children may work with a dietitian to follow an eating plan that helps improve brain function after a TBI. Eating enough nutrient-dense calories is crucial for brain function, clear thinking and healing after an injury.

Medication management: Our neurologists may prescribe medications to decrease pain, reduce the risk of blood clots or manage side effects of TBI.  

Occupational therapy: An occupational therapist helps improve fine motor skills and skills for completing daily tasks.

Physical therapy: A physical therapist helps children increase strength and restore their physical fitness after a traumatic brain injury.

Vestibular therapy: This specialized form of physical therapy helps children improve balance and reduce dizziness.

Meet our team

Our specialists offer comprehensive treatment for children with traumatic brain injuries. We participate in national trials that enable us to continually improve care. Children benefit from our research-driven, compassionate approach.

Team Members

Sue Yudovin, RN, MN, CPNP

Nurse Practitioner, Specialized in Sports Concussion and TBI

Talin Babikian, PhD, ABPP

Clinical Neuropsychologist, Specialized in Sports Concussion and TBI

Jesse Fischer

Clinic and Research Coordinator

Max Zeiger

Clinic and Research Coordinator

Contact us

Call 310-825-0867 to request an appointment with a concussion or TBI specialist at UCLA Health.

Find your care

To learn more about concussion and TBI treatment in children, call 310-825-0867.