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Information for Parents

What is a concussion?

A concussion is a brain injury caused by a hit to the head that can change the way the brain normally works. Concussions can also occur from a fall or blow to the body that causes the head to move rapidly back and forth. Young children and teens are more likely to get a concussion and take longer to recover than adults.

What do you need to know about concussions?

  • All concussions are serious
  • Even a bump to the head can be serious
  • Concussions are an invisible injury. You can’t see a concussion on an x-ray or MRI
  • Most concussions occur without loss of consciousness
  • Concussions can occur even with a helmet
  • Signs of a concussion may appear right after the injury or hours or days later
  • Early identification and management can help recovery and prevent further brain injury or even death

If you suspect a concussion:

  • Have your child stop all activity right away.
  • Seek medical attention as soon as possible.
  • Monitor your child closely for any physical, mental or emotional changes. Remember, symptoms of a concussion don’t always show up right away. They may appear 24 to 72 hours after the injury. 
  • Children with a concussion should not return to any activity on the same day the injury occurred.

Does your child have any signs and symptoms of a concussion?

  • Sleep disturbances or drowsiness
  • Headache
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Poor balance or coordination
  • Dizziness
  • Visual problems
  • Sensitivity to light or noise
  • Confused, foggy
  • Poor concentration
  • Memory loss
  • Irritability
  • Sadness
  • Nervousness

If yes, seek medical attention as soon as possible.

Is this an emergency? Does your child have any Red Flag symptoms?

  • Increased drowsiness or cannot be awakened
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Neck pain
  • Increased confusion –cannot recognize people or places
  • Repeated vomiting
  • Convulsions or seizures 
  • Pupils are not the same size 
  • Blurred or double vision 
  • Slurred speech 
  • Weakness, numbness in arms/legs 
  • Change in behaviour- irritability aggression 

If yes, call 911 or go to the emergency room immediately.

How should I manage my child’s concussion? 

Concussion management involves rest, both cognitive (for the brain) and physical (for the body). This is needed for the brain to heal. Children who get concussions usually recover within a week or two without lasting health problems by following certain precautions and taking a break from sports .Work with your doctor, school and coaches to manage your child’s concussion. Follow the step by step Return to School and Return to Activity guidelines to aid your child’s recovery.

For more information, see Dr. Mike Evans' video, Concussion Management and Return to Learn:


Concussions affect people differently. Most will recover quickly and fully.  Some will have symptoms that last for days or even weeks. More serious concussions can last for months or longer.

Children with conditions like migraines, learning disabilities, ADHD, and psychiatric illnesses may take longer to recover.  Those who have had a concussion in the past are at risk for having another and may also take longer to recover. 

What is the role of the school?

The Ontario Ministry of Education requires all school boards to have a concussion protocol in place. Check your board’s website or talk to your child’s principal.

Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board Concussion Directive.                        

Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board Concussion Protocols.

Want to learn more?


Hamilton Health Sciences • Hamilton, Ontario • 905.521.2100

Disclaimer: Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) offers Google Translate to better facilitate access for our community. However, HHS makes no claims regarding the accuracy of translations. Any and all health information should be verified by a health care professional.