Is it just a harmless bump on the head — or something more serious? Our pediatric concussion experts have the experience, equipment and medical know-how to tell the difference. We take a team approach to assess and treat mild traumatic brain injuries and concussions in children of all ages.
A concussion is a type of mild traumatic brain injury that occurs when someone’s brain moves around inside the skull or bangs against it. Although the injury may seem mild, concussions in children can affect health, thinking ability, behavior/mood, school performance and social interactions.
A concussion can be caused by:
- a fall, especially in babies, toddlers and young children
- a sports injury
- a crash involving an all-terrain vehicle (ATV), bike or automobile
- a physical attack, a school fight or child abuse
- any major head trauma, blow to the head
With plenty of rest and reduced activity, kids often recover on their own from a concussion in a week or two. Concussions in other children might require weeks or even months of therapy, rehabilitation, and taking a break from school, sports and other physical and cognitive activities. One of the most important factors for a successful recovery is easing back in to regular activities slowly over time, one activity at a time, with guidance from your health care provider.
- photo ID
- medical and pharmacy insurance cards
- preferred pharmacy name and phone number
- names and dosage of all medications, including over-the-counter medication, your child is currently taking
- guardianship and custody papers, if a legal guardian rather than a parent accompanies your child
- any forms required for school, camp, sports, etc.
- a list of prior immunizations
Bring these forms for your first appointment:
At Nemours Children’s Hospital (NCH), we take a proactive and education-oriented approach to caring for concussions in children. We work closely with Central Florida’s coaches, trainers, teachers and parents to raise awareness about the dangers of concussions in children and teens.
Concussions directly involve the brain and can affect how kids feel, behave and function in school and sports. That’s why our pediatric concussion experts work together with specialists in a variety of fields to help your child or teen gradually and safely ease back into normal activities.
Pediatric concussion care at Nemours Children’s Hospital (NCH) includes specialists and professionals representing several medical disciplines. We work as a team to care for concussion symptoms in children.
Our concussion care team includes:
- pediatric rehabilitation medicine (brain injury specialists)
- neuropsychology (brain function specialists)
- sports medicine
- physical therapy
- occupational therapy
- speech therapy
- otolaryngology (who can assess and help with balance problems)
- ophthalmology (eye care)
This coordinated approach ensures that your child will have access to all the experts who might be needed.
A Personalized Treatment Program for Concussions in Children
The Comprehensive Concussion Center at NCH has a coordinated care team that will develop a personalized treatment program based on your child’s concussion symptoms and changes in functioning.
With most concussions in children, kids often just need lots of rest from physical and mental activities and a careful return to normal activities (with clearance from a doctor). But this process takes time and it’s different for every kid. Your child may want to get back to normal life more quickly, but for general guidelines, follow this basic return-to-play home program.
Activities to avoid until cleared by a doctor include:
- physical education (gym class) and recess
- contact sports
- rough play
- exercise, including "light" workouts, such as jogging or bike riding
- work or volunteer hours (not even part-time)
- driving (for any reason)
- socializing in loud, bright or crowded places
Some kids require specialized diagnostic, monitoring and treatment techniques. Rarely, a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or other tests may be needed to check for more severe damage. If so, you can get pediatric medical imaging tests right here at our hospital.
After your child or teen is injured it’s important to follow up with a health care provider. When it comes to a head injury or concussion, regardless of how mild it seems or how quickly symptoms resolve, it’s important to monitor concussion symptoms in children very closely. Some younger children may even need to be monitored overnight in the hospital.
Here are some steps to help your child recover from concussion symptoms:
- Get plenty of rest, both physical and cognitive (mental).
- Take acetaminophen as needed for headache.
- Stay hydrated (this improves cerebral blood flow, which is reduced after concussion).
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol (these can further reduce blood flow to the injured brain).
- Maintain a good diet (spinach, cocoa and cucumbers are good for improving blood flow).
Increased attention to concussions in sports means rules are changing and new laws have been created for kids’ safety. Florida's Youth and Scholastic Athlete Concussion Bill (HB 291) addresses concussion symptoms in children and prevents kids suspected of sustaining a concussion from returning to play without clearance from an “appropriate medical practitioner.”
Under Florida law, there’s no such thing as same-day return to play. Never return your child to play or school until all concussion symptoms have resolved.
A Hospital Designed by Families, for Families
At Nemours Children’s Hospital, family-centered care is at the heart of everything we do. In fact, families helped shape the unique amenities and convenient services that make our hospital like no other in the region.
You’ll feel right at home in one of our private patient rooms designed with input from families who know what it’s like to have a child in the hospital.
Our large, comfortable, single-patient rooms have sleeping accommodations for two parents, a private bathroom, wireless Internet access, connections for DVD players and game systems, and two flat-screen TVs.
Other in-room features include:
- full floor-to-ceiling windows for natural light
- refrigerator for family meals and snacks
- wardrobe storage for personal items and a hotel-style safe
- GetWellNetwork interactive television (uniquely based on your child’s age, medical condition and more) and allows your child to watch TV, surf the Web, check e-mail, play music and games, and learn about your Nemours health care team.
Our “hospital within a garden” setting features many places for you and your family to go for fresh air and relaxation, including a one-acre interactive sensory discovery garden or one of our rooftop gardens on the second and fourth floors.
We have many more comforts and amenities such as:
- complimentary valet and parking
- kid-friendly commons areas for siblings
- café and coffee shop
- nondenominational chapel
- concierge services
If your child needs medical imaging, we offer some of the area’s most advanced pediatric radiology services here on campus at Nemours
Our unique services include:
- interventional radiology: Our team of experts uses image guidance to diagnose and treat diseases and tumors throughout the body. Certain conditions that previously required open surgery can now be treated by Nemours pediatric interventional radiologists. We are very fortunate to have the only dual-trained pediatric diagnostic and interventional radiologist in the state.
- neuroradiological or cardiovascular imaging, and fetal MRI (magnetic resonance imaging): Our subspecialty-trained pediatric radiologists see children with complex conditions who require this highly specialized imaging.
- Central Florida’s only 256-slice Brilliance iCT Scanner: We are one of only a handful of children’s hospitals in the country to have this latest generation CAT (or CT) scanner that scans faster than most machines and produces excellent images in a much shorter time with much less radiation exposure for the child.
Our team of board-certified pediatric radiologists and pediatric radiologic technologists are experts in the safe medical imaging of children of every age, even newborns.
We have also pledged our commitment to the “Image Gently” campaign of the Alliance for Radiation Safety in Pediatric Imaging, which is increasing awareness of the opportunities to promote radiation protection in the imaging of children.
At Nemours, we want to hear your concerns and share with you everything we can about your child's condition and treatment. If English is not your first language, we'll make sure you understand what to expect — in your language.