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Concussion Information

This information is provided to help protect athletes from concussion or other serious brain injury. Use this information at your games and practices to learn how to spot a concussion and what to do if a concussion occurs.

What is a Concussion?

A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury—or TBI—caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or by a hit to the body that causes the head and brain to move quickly back and forth. This fast movement can cause the brain to bounce around or twist in the skull, creating chemical changes in the brain and sometimes stretching and damaging the brain cells.

How Can I Keep Athletes Safe?

As a youth sports coach, your actions can help lower an athlete’s chances of getting a concussion or other serious injury. Aggressive or unsportsmanlike behavior among athletes can increase their chances of getting a concussion or other serious injury.  Here are some ways you can help:

Talk with athletes about concussion:
•Set time aside throughout the season to talk about concussion.
•Ask athletes about any concerns they have about reporting
concussion symptoms.
•Remind athletes that safety comes first and that you expect them to tell you and their parent(s) if they think they have experienced a bump, blow, or jolt to their head and “don’t feel right.”

Focus on safety at games and practices:
•Teach athletes ways to lower the chances of getting a hit to the head.
•Enforce rules that limit or remove the risk of head impacts.
•Tell athletes that good sportsmanship is expected at all times, both on and off the field.
•Bring emergency contact information for parents and healthcare providers to each game and practice in case an athlete needs to be seen right away for a concussion or other serious injury.

How Can I Spot A Possible Concussion?

Children and teens who show or report one or more of the signs and symptoms listed below—or simply say they just “don’t feel right” after a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or body—may have a concussion or other serious brain injury.

Signs Observed by Parents or Coaches:

  • Appears dazed or stunned.
  • Forgets an instruction, is confused about an assignment or position, or is unsure of the game, score, or opponent.
  • Moves clumsily.
  • Answers questions slowly.
  • Loses consciousness (even briefly).
  • Shows mood, behavior, or personality changes.
  • Can’t recall events prior to or after a hit or fall.

Symptoms Reported by Children and Teens:

  • Headache or “pressure” in head.
  • Nausea or vomiting.
  • Balance problems or dizziness, or double or blurry vision. 
  • Bothered by light or noise.
  • Feeling sluggish, hazy, foggy, or groggy.
  • Confusion, or concentration or memory problems.
  • Just not “feeling right,” or “feeling down.”

What Are Some More Dangerous Signs To Look Out For?

Athletes who show or report one or more of the signs and symptoms listed below—or who simply say they just “don’t feel right”—after a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or body may have a concussion or other serious brain injury. Concussion signs and symptoms often show up soon after the injury, but it can be hard to tell how serious the concussion is at first. Some symptoms may not show up for hours or days.

Signs coaches or parents may observe:
•Seems confused
•Forgets an instruction or is unsure of the game, position, score, or opponent
•Moves clumsily
•Answers questions slowly or repeats questions
•Can’t remember events before or after the hit, bump, or fall
•Loses consciousness (even for a moment)
•Has behavior or personality changes

Symptoms athletes may report:
•Nausea or vomiting
•Dizziness or balance problems
•Bothered by light or noise
•Feeling foggy or groggy
•Trouble concentrating or problems with short- or
long-term memory
•Does not "feel right"

Signs of a more serious brain injury:
In rare cases, a concussion can cause dangerous bleeding in the brain, which puts pressure on the skull. Call 9-1-1 if an athlete develops one or more of these danger signs after a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or body:

•A headache that gets worse and does not go away
•Significant nausea or repeated vomiting
•Unusual behavior, increased confusion, restlessness, or agitation
•Drowsiness or inability to wake up
•Slurred speech, weakness, numbness, or decreased coordination
•Convulsions or seizures (shaking or twitching)
•Loss of consciousness (passing out)

What Should I Do if an Athlete Has a Possible Concussion?

As a coach, if you think an athlete may have a concussion, you should:

Remove the athlete from play.
When in doubt, sit them out! Record and provide details on the following information to help the healthcare provider or first responders assess the athlete after the injury:

•Cause of the injury and force of the hit or blow to the head or body
•Any loss of consciousness (passed out) and for
how long
•Any memory loss right after the injury
•Any seizures right after the injury
•Number of previous concussions (if any)

Keep an athlete with a possible concussion out of play on the same day of the injury and until cleared by a healthcare provider.
Do not try to judge the severity of the injury yourself.  Only a healthcare provider should assess an athlete for a possible concussion and decide when it is safe for the athlete to return to play.

Inform the athlete’s parent(s) about the possible concussion.
Let parents know about the possible concussion and give them the CDC HEADS UP fact sheet for parents to help them watch the athlete for concussion signs and symptoms at home.
Ask for written instructions from the athlete’s healthcare provider on return to play.
This should include information about when the athlete can return to play and steps you should take to help the athlete safely return to play. Athletes who continue to play while having concussion symptoms have a greater chance of getting another concussion. A repeat concussion that occurs before the brain has fully healed can be very serious and can increase the chance for long-term problems. It can even be fatal.

Offer support during recovery.
An athlete may feel frustrated, sad, angry, or lonely while recovering from a concussion. Talk with them about it, and allow an athlete recovering from a concussion to stay in touch with their teammates, such as cheering on their team at practices and competitions.

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