Children often bump or bang their heads, and it can be difficult to tell whether or not an injury is serious. Any knock to the head is considered a head injury. Head injuries are classified as mild, moderate or severe. Many head injuries are mild, and simply result in a small lump or bruise. Mild head injuries can be managed at home, but moderate or severe injuries to the head need to be evaluated by a doctor.
Concussion is a temporary injury to the brain caused by a bump, blow or jolt to the head. While concussions usually only last up to a few days or weeks, they sometimes require emergency treatment and some people can have longer-lasting problems.
Cognitive fatigue is a common problem that can happen after a head injury. When a child has cognitive fatigue, it means the brain has to work harder to concentrate on tasks it used to be able to do easily, for example watching TV, playing computer games, or having a long conversation. Cognitive fatigue is not related to a child’s intellectual capacity or physical energy levels. It can lead to behavioral problems, mood swings and educational difficulties.
Children experiencing cognitive fatigue should have complete rest—for both their brain and body. This means no watching TV or playing on mobile electronic devices. Allow your child to gradually return to reading and other activities that require periods of greater concentration or thinking.
Children and adolescents suffering from concussion can take up to four weeks to recover, but most concussions will get better on their own over several days.
Only move on to the next step if your child is not showing any symptoms of concussion.
Children should not return to sports until they have successfully returned to school. Allow at least 24 hours for each step and at least 1 week before a return to normal game play.