Parents: it’s time for a primer on concussions. Here are the facts from concussion specialist, Dr. Kevin Walter.  

  • First: The number of concussions among kids is rising. Nearly 200,000 kids under age 19 end up in the ER every year with a brain injury, which is a 60-percent increase from a decade ago.  

  • Also: Your child’s at risk even if they don’t play contact sports like football. The most common cause of concussions is bicycle accidents. But they also happen playing basketball or soccer. The fact is: Any significant impact to the head can cause a brain injury whether you collide with the ground, another player or a soccer ball. 

  • Another fact: Helmets don’t prevent concussions; they stop broken bones. A concussion injury comes from the brain slamming against the inside of the skull. And no helmet can prevent that. 

  • Also: Forget the “sidelines test” where a coach asks “How many fingers am I holding up?” Experts say that won’t show whether it’s safe for a kid to return to the field. If a coach suspects head trauma, the child must be benched for the rest of the game.  

  • Finally: The younger you are, the longer it takes to recover from a concussion because our brain isn’t fully formed until age 25. 

So what are the symptoms of a concussion? Dizziness, nausea and being disoriented are the most common. But there’s no definitive test to identify a concussion, and it can set in hours after the initial impact. And a kid doesn’t need to pass out from a blow to the head to get a concussion. Only 5-percent of cases include a loss of consciousness. 

Also a concussion can take weeks or months to heal. So it’s important to get anyone with a suspected concussion immediate medical attention because another head impact before being fully healed can lead to second-impact syndrome, which can cause persistent headaches, dizziness, or even death. So take any blow to the head seriously.