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Even a minor bump to the head can cause serious problems with thinking, memory, movement and emotional health. The effects of a brain injury can last for a few days or months—or for a lifetime. More than 170,000 kids and teens are treated in emergency room departments each year for sports- or recreational-related traumatic brain injuries, including concussions.

Watch for symptoms
Symptoms can appear right after an injury, a few hours later or days later. Know the symptoms and seek medical attention right away if you suspect a brain injury.
Symptoms include:

  • Headache or “pressure” in head
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Balance problems or dizziness
  • Double or blurry vision
  • Sensitivity to light or noise
  • Feeling sluggish, hazy, foggy, or groggy
  • Concentration or memory problems
  • Confusion
  • Just not “feeling right” or is “feeling down”

Signs observed:

  • Appears dazed, stunned, or confused
  • Forgets an instruction
  • Moves clumsily
  • Answers questions slowly
  • Loses consciousness (even briefly)
  • Shows mood, behavior, or personality changes
  • Can’t recall events prior to hit or fall

Protect yourself from brain injury
Wear a helmet when biking, skiing, or playing contact sports like hockey and football. Helmets should fit properly and be: well-maintained, age appropriate, worn consistently and correctly, and appropriately certified for use. While there is no concussion-proof helmet, a helmet can help protect you from a serious brain or head injury. Even with a helmet, it is important to avoid hits to the head.

Seek medical attention. Timely recognition and appropriate response is important in treating a mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI) or concussion.

Play it safe after a concussion. Rest is very important after a concussion because it helps the brain to heal. You’ll need to be patient because healing takes time. Only when the symptoms have reduced significantly, in consultation with your doctor, should you slowly and gradually return to your daily activities, such as work or school.

Source: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. To learn more about how to recognize, respond to, and minimize the risk of concussion or other serious brain injury to go to cdc.gov/HeadsUp.