When I was about 10, I was playing on a little league baseball team. In one game I lost a fly ball in the sun and the ball hit me in the head. I lost consciousness for a few seconds, which was probably a good thing since getting hit in the head with a fly ball was one of the most embarrassing moments of my young life. My dad took me to the emergency room and they sent me home after a few hours of observation. Fortunately, no concussion.
I was pretty lucky, but thousands of other kids aren’t. Some get their brain rattled in a fall, others playing sports. Even activities people thought were safe, like heading a soccer ball, interestingly, can produce a concussion (heading has actually been linked to brain damage).
Concussions are definitely not something you can just shake off and go back to whatever you were doing when it happened (assuming you can remember what that was). For most kids, the symptoms go away within a few months, but for 10-20 percent of young concussion survivors, symptoms–including forgetfulness, fatigue, difficulty paying attention, balance problems, and headaches–can last a year or longer.
If your child has received a good smack on the head, it’s important to pay attention to his or her behavior afterwards. If your child exhibits any concussion symptoms (different sleeping patterns, mood changes, problems with thinking and decision making) the CDC recommends that you get in to see the child’s pediatrician. And if the child is complains of headaches that won’t go away, seems to been uncoordinated, vomits or is nauseous, slurs his speech, or won’t eat or nurse, get in your can and head off to the hospital right away.
There’s an abstract of the full study, which was published in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, here: http://archpedi.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/short/archpediatrics.2011.1082