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Concussion: Return to Play

Football Player

Q: What is a concussion?

A: A concussion is a form of mild traumatic brain injury that can occur as a result of contact to the head or parts of the body that cause a rapid bump or blow to the brain. Contrary to popular belief, a concussion is not a brain bruise and is not detectable on a CT scan or conventional MRI.

Q: What should I expect if my child has a concussion?

A: Concussions are known to have an impact on your child’s reaction time, short-term memory, and cognitive processing speed. More commonly, your child may complain of headaches, nausea, lethargy, dizziness, sensitivity to light or noise, as well as “needing to take a break”.

Gone are the days where your child needs to remain awake all night. After being evaluated on the sideline by a medical professional, it is okay for your child to fall asleep. It is important to ensure your child takes cognitive breaks from watching TV, computer, video games, cell phones, and even their schoolwork. In the hours/days after a concussion, it is important to allow the brain to heal.

Q: How long will the symptoms last?

A: This is a tricky question. The reality is, coming back from a concussion could take anywhere from a few days to several weeks to make a full recovery to sport. You know your child best – it is imperative to continue to monitor their symptoms and day-to-day activity. It is completely normal for some symptoms to take longer to resolve than others. Studies have shown that in severe cases it could take several months for symptoms to fully resolve.

Q: When can my child return to play their sport?

A: According to Texas state legislation, if your child has been diagnosed with a concussion they will need to be cleared by an MD before returning to sport. Most concussion oversight teams follow the Zurich Concussion Guideline, which is a 5 step return to play protocol that is usually completed by your child’s Athletic Trainer. After being symptom free for 24 hours, completing the protocol, and receiving a clearance note by your MD, your child can safely return to sport. Some school districts/teams may additionally require consent forms that you and your student understand the potential risks with return to sport.

Read More Articles by EXOS Regarding Youth Athletes:

Dry Needling the Pediatric Population - Applicability and Safety

Avoiding Injury in the Year Round Athlete

Brittani Cookinham, PT, DPT, ATC, LAT, Physical Therapy Manager

Brittani Cookinham, PT, DPT, ATC, LAT

Physical Therapy Manager, EXOS‐TX

The Athlete's Parent

Experts who work with professional & Olympic athletes share information for your youth athlete!

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