Concussion Information for Parents and Families

What is a concussion?

A concussion is a type of traumatic 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.

What are the signs and symptoms of concussion?

If your child has experienced a bump or blow to the head, look for any of the following signs of a concussion.

Symptoms reported:

  • 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.
  • Confusion.
  • Just not “feeling right” or is “feeling down.”

Signs observed by parents/guardians:

  • Appears dazed or stunned.
  • Is confused about assignment or position.
  • Forgets an instruction.
  • Is unsure of game, score, or opponent (if sports-related).
  • Moves clumsily.
  • Answers questions slowly.
  • Loses consciousness (even briefly).
  • Shows mood, behavior, or personality changes.

Symptoms of concussion usually fall into four categories:





Difficulty thinking clearly               


Fuzzy or blurry vision               


Sleeping more than usual

Feeling slowed down    

Nausea or vomiting

(early on)



Sleep less than usual

Difficulty concentrating

Sensitivity to noise or light

Balance problems

More emotional

Trouble falling asleep

Difficulty remembering new information

Feeling tired, having no energy

Nervousness or anxiety


Sports-Related Concussion Program

The Sports-Related Concussion Program at the Cooper Bone and Joint Institute provides athletes with expert diagnosis and treatment of concussion. The combined expertise of a multidisciplinary team of orthopaedic, neurological, and pediatric experts ensures a full range of specialized services in the diagnosis, treatment, and management of concussion, including:

  • ImPACT® (Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing) is a computer neurocognitive test used as a tool to help assess an athlete’s cognitive ability. One can obtain a baseline score prior to an injury and then compare the post-injury score to help assess if there are any deficiencies. This test is a tool used by medical doctors, psychologists, athletic trainers, and other licensed health care professionals to assist them in determining an athlete's ability to return to play after suffering a concussion. This test should never be used as a stand-alone tool for diagnosis and management.
  • Neuropsychological testing is available to diagnose neurological conditions that can occur in patients who have a longer recovery time after a concussion.
  • Vestibular rehabilitation is a specialized physical therapy treatment typically used to treat vertigo, dizziness, motion sensitivity, imbalance, and neurological injuries. Our therapists implement vestibular therapy treatment for individuals suffering from post-concussion syndrome. Vestibular injury can be caused by concussive blows to the head and leads to impairments in oculomotor control (eye movements) needed for reading and sports, as well as imbalance and motion sensitivity.

Return-to-Play Guidelines

Our sports medicine physicians will construct a safe and progressive return-to-play program for the athletic patient once he or she:

  • Is asymptomatic.
  • Passes physical and neurological exams.
  • Returns to baseline ImPACT scores if available.

Our physicians are happy to work with the patient’s athletic trainers in the implementation of this program. The goal of the physicians at the Cooper Bone and Joint Institute is to work with each patient on an individual basis and consult parents and coaches to help assure a safe return to all athletic activities. Prevention of recurrent head injuries is stressed through education by our sports medicine specialists.

Concussion Prevention*

The following are some steps you can take to help reduce the risk for concussions in children.

  • Car and Booster Seats: Always use age- and size-appropriate car seats and booster seats that are properly installed.
  • Helmets: Make sure your child always wears the right helmet for their activity and that it fits correctly. Wearing a helmet is a must to help reduce the risk of a serious brain injury or skull fracture. However, helmets are not designed to prevent concussions. There is no "concussion-proof" helmet.
  • Stair Gates: Use gates at the top and bottom of stairs to prevent serious falls in infants and toddlers.
  • Soft Surfaces: Use playgrounds with soft material under them like mulch or sand, not grass or dirt.
  • Closely monitor your child’s participation in sports programs.