Spot the Signs: Advice from the Neurohabilitation Concussion Clinic at Kennedy Krieger

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September 06, 2010
For Concussion Awareness Week, September 6-11, 2010

The Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association, in conjunction with all 24 local school systems, has declared, September 6-11th, as Concussion Awareness Week. Recent studies have shown that sports-related concussions in children and adolescents are on the rise, and yet it is believed that they are still under-reported by young athletes. As the fall sports season begins, our Concussion Clinic at Kennedy Krieger has advice on preventing and recognizing a concussion.

A concussion is a mild brain injury and one of the most common injuries following a trauma. Leading causes of concussions in sports include a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or body. Even a mild bump or blow to the head can be serious. Children and adolescents who sustain multiple concussions tend to take longer to recover each time and are more likely to experience lingering symptoms and lifelong physical, cognitive, and psychological problems.


  • Ensure your child wears protective equipment that fits properly and is well kept
  • Emphasize to your child the importance of the coaches' safety rules and the rules of the sport
  • Teach your child to practice good sportsmanship at all times

Symptoms for parents to spot:

  • Confusion about what position to play
  • Clumsy movements
  • A dazed or stunned look
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Forgetful of instructions
  • Can't recall the score or his/her opponent
  • Changes in mood or personality
  • Slow to answer questions
  • Unable to remember events just before, or just after, the point of impact

Symptoms experienced by the athlete:

  • Feeling nauseated or vomiting
  • Headache or "pressure" in head
  • Blurred or double vision
  • Confusion
  • Feeling groggy, sluggish, or hazy
  • Trouble with balance or feeling dizzy
  • Memory loss or trouble concentrating
  • Agitation from light or noise
  • Complains of "not feeling right" or "feeling down"

What to do if there is evidence of a concussion:

  • Seek immediate medical attention. If your child displays one or more of the symptoms, an experienced health care professional will be able to determine the seriousness of your child's concussion.
  • Stay out of play. Your child's brain needs time to heal after a concussion. Put the pause button on returning to sports until a health care professional, experienced in evaluating for concussion, says it is OK.
  • Alert coaches and school nurses about ANY concussion. In the event of a concussion, alert your child's coaches, school nurses, and other school staff. During recovery, it may be necessary to limit activities including exercising, studying, driving, and using a computer.

About the Concussion Clinic at Kennedy Krieger Institute

The Concussion Clinic treats children and adolescents, ages 5 to 18 years. Treatment and services include checking for overlooked injuries or ongoing problems, assessing patients' best path to optimal recovery, and helping them to return to academic, athletic, and community life. The clinic also provides education and support for families with questions about their child's return to typical activities. For more information or to schedule an appointment, please call 443-923-9400 or toll free at 888-554-2080.

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