Teen Play Sports? Here's Need-to-Know Concussion Info

Know what to do if your teen has a concussion

There are a few things that noticeably signal the shift of summer into fall – changing leaves, cooler evenings, school buses on the roads, and, for some people – the start of football season. For the past few years, concussion awareness has been in the news and a topic of conversation across the country. Much of this conversation focuses on football, but the truth is that many sports put athletes at risk of suffering a concussion.

And the risk isn’t just for professional or college-level players – young athletes can also suffer serious head injuries during sports activities. In fact, children and teens are more likely to suffer traumatic brain injuries and long-term complications. As school sports get under way, it’s important to learn some concussion facts, concussion symptoms, and what you should (and shouldn’t) do if your child has a concussion.

Which Sports Are a Concussion Concern?

The hard-hitting nature of football has earned it spot #1 on the concussion risk list, and ice hockey and soccer round out the top three most concussion-prone sports. However, almost any physical activity can result in a concussion. Being hit by a ball or tripping and falling to the ground can cause just as serious of a concussion as a tackle.

Which Ages Are Most at Risk?

Many people believe that because college and professional players give and take harder hits, they are the athletes most at risk for devastating concussions. Research shows, however, that high school athletes take longer to recover after a concussion AND display more serious symptoms.

It is estimated that 53 percent of high school athletes have suffered a concussion before playing a high school sport. Furthermore, high school athletes are almost twice as likely to sustain a concussion as college players. And once a child has sustained one concussion, they are more susceptible to additional concussions – even from hits that typically wouldn’t result in one.

The frontal lobes of the brain aren’t fully developed until the age of 25, which makes youngsters more vulnerable to injuries that alter neurological function. That’s why it’s particularly important to carefully monitor and manage concussion symptoms and treatment.

Signs of a Concussion

Many people associate concussions with a loss of consciousness, but they can occur with any impact to the brain. Once upon a time it was called “getting your bell rung” – a hit to the head followed by symptoms like dizziness or confusion. Nowadays we know that any disruption of brain function caused by an impact is a concussion and needs medical attention.

Concussions can be tricky to diagnose, especially in children who aren’t always able to describe what they are experiencing. In fact, it’s estimated that up to 50 percent of teen concussions aren’t reported – either because they aren’t aware they have one or because they don’t want to leave the game.

Here are some of the most common signs to look out for:

  • Confusion
  • Feeling dazed
  • Slurred speech
  • Headache
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Blurred vision
  • Dizziness
  • Sensitivity to light or noise
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Memory loss
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Personality changes

Keep in mind that symptoms may not appear for weeks after the injury is sustained, so be alert to any concerning changes or behaviors.

What to Do After a Concussion

You should seek medical attention as soon as you suspect that a concussion has occurred. A doctor can provide a diagnosis, determine the seriousness of the injury, and prescribe a treatment plan. While most people with concussions fully recover, some may experience long-lasting effects.

Once you receive that treatment plan, follow it. This may include a reduction in your normal activities or an adjustment of work or school schedules. While this might feel like an inconvenience, disregarding doctors’ orders could prolong recovery time.

A recent study from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center concussion clinic found that teens who continued to play sports even though they had a concussion doubled their recovery time and had impaired short-term mental function compared to those who were immediately sidelined.

Answers to Your Questions

Although sports are most closely associated with concussions, we’ve seen clients sustain brain injuries from slip and fall accidents, car accidents, bicycle accidents, and more. We’ve seen daily tasks become nearly impossible for them and understand the frustration and fear that come with not knowing what’s next.

While we can’t turn back time, we can help you understand what’s next. We can help answer questions like, “Who will pay for my medical bills,” “Do I have a legal case,” and “Can I make up for lost wages?”

If you—or a loved one—is the victim of an accident and is dealing with injuries, feel free to get in touch with us. We’re here to answer your legal questions 24/7.

“Concussion.” WebMD. Sept. 20, 2014.
“Concussion Facts.” Sports Concussion Institute. Aug. 29, 2016.
“High School Football Players Face Bigger Concussion Risk.” Frontline, PBS. Oct. 31, 2013.
“Playing sports with concussion doubles recovery time, study finds.” CBSNews.com. Aug. 29, 2016.