Children's Hospital Colorado

Signs of a Concussion in Young Athletes

Headshot of Aaron Provance, MD at Children's Hospital Colorado.Immediately after a significant head injury, a young athlete should be evaluated to determine if they have suffered a concussion. It is important to monitor for signs of a more serious head injury involving the following red flags:

  • Increasing drowsiness
  • Vomiting
  • Increasing headache
  • Seizure-like activity
  • Difficulty in arousing
  • Numbness/tingling of arms or legs
  • Weakness of arms or legs
  • Any unusual behavior

With any of the above symptoms, the young athlete needs to be taken to the nearest emergency department or urgent care facility for immediate evaluation.

After a concussion has been diagnosed, it is important to take it easy and avoid activities that may exacerbate or worsen symptoms from the head injury. Common symptoms occurring after a concussion include:

  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Balance problems/dizziness
  • Fatigue or drowsiness
  • Sleeping less than usual
  • Sleeping more than usual
  • Trouble falling asleep
  • Blurry or double vision
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Sensitivity to noise
  • Feeling in a “fog”
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Trouble remembering
  • Feeling irritable
  • Feeling sad

Common question: do helmets prevent concussions?

There are advances in helmets every year, but is important to know that the current research does not show any brand or type of helmet to be more protective when it comes to preventing concussions. The brain is suspended inside the skull within the cerebral spinal fluid and is at continued risk of rotational type forces (which are believed to cause most concussions) even with the most advanced helmets.

Want to learn more about how we diagnose and treat concussions? Visit our website or call our Concussion Program Hotline: 720-777-2806.

Written by: Aaron J. Provance, MD Co-Director Pediatric Sports Medicine Program Children’s Hospital Colorado Dept of Orthopedics.