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Concussion in Children


A concussion is an injury to the tissue or blood vessels in your child's brain. It is usually caused by a bump or blow to the head from a fall, a motor vehicle crash, or a sports injury. Sometimes being forcefully shaken may cause a concussion.


Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that your child may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your child's medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done to your child. Make sure all of your questions are answered.


Your child may need to rest in bed after a concussion. Your child's caregiver will tell you when your child can return to regular activities. Talk to your child's caregiver if you have any questions.

Emotional support:

You may stay with your child for comfort and support. Your child will feel safer in the hospital with you or a loved one close by. Ask caregivers if another family member can stay with your child when you cannot be there. Bring in something from home that your child likes, such as a blanket, a favorite toy, or clothing.


  • Heart monitor: This is a machine used to see how your child's heart is handling the concussion. Sticky pads are placed on your child's chest. Each pad has a wire that is hooked to a TV-type screen or to a small portable box. This screen or box shows a picture of your child's heartbeat. Caregivers watch this picture to make sure your child's heart is doing well.
  • Blood tests: Your child may need blood taken for tests. The blood may be taken from your child's arm, hand, finger, foot, heel, or IV. Your child may need to have blood drawn more than once.
  • Neurologic exam: A caregiver may check your child's eyes, memory, and how easily your child wakes up. The strength of your child's arms, hands, legs, and feet may also be checked. These tests may tell caregivers how well your child's brain is working.
  • CT scan: An x-ray uses a computer to take pictures of your child's brain. He may be given dye before the pictures are taken to help caregivers see the pictures better. Tell your child's caregivers if he is allergic to iodine or shellfish. He may also be allergic to the dye. Your child must lay still for the short time it takes to have a CT scan. Some children are too young or cannot hold still enough to have a CT scan. Your child may need medicine to help him relax or fall asleep so the CT scan can be done.
  • MRI: This scan uses powerful magnets and a computer to take pictures of your child's head and blood vessels. He may be given dye to help the pictures show up better. Tell your child's caregivers if he is allergic to iodine or shellfish. He may also be allergic to the dye. Do not let your child enter the MRI room with anything metal. Metal can cause serious injury. Tell your child's caregivers if he has any metal in or on his body.
  • X-rays: Your child may need x-rays of his head and neck to make sure there is no neck injury. These are used to check for other injuries, such as a fracture.


  • Ice: Sometimes a blow to the head may cause bruising, swelling, or a cut on your child's skin. A caregiver may use ice to decrease your child's pain and swelling. It is best to start using ice right after an injury and up to 24 to 48 hours afterwards. Do not use ice directly on the skin, or for longer than 20 minutes at a time. If ice is not covered or is put on one area of your child's body for too long, it may cause frostbite.
  • IV: An IV is a tiny tube placed in your child's vein. It may be put in your child's hand, arm, ankle, foot, or head. Your child's IV may be hooked to a machine that will give your child fluids and medicine. When your child gets enough fluid and medicine, a caregiver may disconnect the IV from the machine. Your child may still need to keep the IV in, or a caregiver may take it out. Let a caregiver know if your child has pain, burning, redness, or swelling at the IV site.
  • Oxygen: Your child may receive oxygen through a mask or small tubes placed in his nose. Some children are placed in an oxygen tent or plastic hood. Do not take off your child's oxygen without asking your child's caregiver first.


  • Rarely, some people may develop post-concussion syndrome (PCS). Symptoms of PCS may not start for several weeks or months after an injury, and usually go away over time. Some people may need further treatment. Your child may have symptoms such as a headache or vision changes with PCS. He may also become anxious, depressed, have difficulty managing anger, or have problems with his memory.
  • Your child may also have had other injuries at the same time as the concussion, like a neck or face injury. The longer your child was unconscious, the more serious the concussion may be. Each additional concussion your child has may increase his risk for problems later in life. These problems include poor coordination, or trouble thinking or concentrating. Having repeated concussions can be life-threatening.


You have the right to help plan your child's care. Learn about your child's health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your child's caregivers to decide what care you want for your child.

Learn more about Concussion in Children (Inpatient Care)

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.