Concussions

This information has been compiled from the Ontario Physical Health Education Association's, Ontario Physical Education Safety Guidelines

A concussion is a brain injury that cannot be seen on routine x-rays, CT scans, or MRIs. It affects the way a child may think and remember things, and can cause a variety of symptoms. A child does not need to be knocked out (lose consciousness) to have had a concussion.

To more information on prevention, identification, management, and treatment for concussions, please click on the link below:

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What causes a concussion?
  • Any blow to the head, face or neck, or a blow to the body that causes a sudden jarring of the head may cause a concussion (ie. a ball to the head, being checked into the boards in hockey).
Symptoms
It is important to remember that some symptoms may appear right away, and some may appear later. No two concussions are the same. The signs and symptoms may be a little different for everyone. Although symptoms may not be immediately apparent, it is important to be aware of the possible physical, cognitive, and emotional changes.
Thinking problems:
  • Does not know time, date, place, period of game, opposing team, score of game; general confusion; cannot remember things that happened before and after the injury; knocked out.
Child’s complaints:
  • Headache; dizziness; feels dazed; feels “dinged” or stunned; sees stars, flashing lights; ringing in the ears; sleepiness; loss of vision; sees double or blurry; stomach ache, stomach pain, nausea.
Other problems:
  • Poor coordination or balance; blank stare/glassy eyed; vomiting; slurred speech; slow to answer questions or follow directions; easily distracted; poor concentration; strange or inappropriate emotions (ie. laughing, crying, getting mad easily); not playing as well.
What should you do if your child gets a concussion?
  • Your child should stop playing the sport right away. They should not be left alone and should be seen by a doctor as soon as possible that day. If your child is knocked out, call an ambulance to take him/her to the hospital immediately. Do not move your child or remove any equipment such as helmet, in case of a cervical spine injury. Wait for paramedics to arrive.
How long will it take for my child to get better?
  • The signs and symptoms of a concussion often last for 7-10 days but may last much longer. In some cases, children may take many weeks or months to heal. Having had previous concussions may increase the chance that a person may take longer to heal.
How is a concussion treated?
  • The most important treatment for a concussion is rest. The child should not exercise, go to school or do any activities that may make them worse, like riding a bike, play wrestling, reading, working on the computer or playing video games. If your child goes back to activities before they are completely better, they are more likely to get worse, and to have symptoms longer. Even though it is very hard for an active child to rest, this is the most important step. Once your child is completely better at rest (all symptoms have resolved), they can start a step-wise increase in activities. It is important that your child is seen by a doctor before he/she begins the steps needed to return to activity, to make sure he/she is completely better. If possible, your child should be seen by a doctor with experience in treating concussions.