Concussions and Youth Sports: What every parent needs to know

I recently went to a Sports Medicine seminar and the topic of youth concussions was discussed.  I had the opportunity to meet an extraordinary young man, Zachary Lystedt.  It is because of what happened to Zach that we now have new laws in place to hopefully prevent the same type of injury that Zach suffered.



For all of us who have children or grandchildren playing contact or collision sports, the information was very timely and useful.  Highlights of the presentation include:

  1. Concussion is defined as a complex pathophysiologic process affecting the brain, induced by traumatic biomechanical forces.
  2. It is estimated that there are as many as 3.8 million concussions suffered every year due to sports injuries.
  3. Signs and symptoms of concussions can vary and be difficult to define.  They can include: headaches, loss of memory, nausea, difficulty focusing, poor sleep patterns, vacant stare, irritability, and emotional outburst.
  4. Unlike an x-ray to determine healing from a fracture, there are no definitive tests to detect the recovery from a concussion.
  5. Among High School athletics, the highest rates of concussions are from football, boys’ hockey and Lacrosse, and finally girls’ soccer.
  6. Average recovery time for most youth is 7-10 days and resolution of any residual symptoms of the concussion.
  7. No same day return to play with a suspected concussion on any level of sports, “when in doubt, keep them out”.
  8. The brain needs time to heal. The initial recovery consists of both physical and mental rest.  Limit media and computer time as well.
  9. It is important to remember that the injured athlete will often down play any residual signs or symptoms of the concussion.  It is up to the parents and family to help identify if all other symptoms have resolved, including ability to focus, short term memory, sleep patterns, and emotional state.


My next blog entry will deal with how to specifically phase your youth athlete back in to his or her sport safely.  Remember, a concussion is a brain injury and needs to be dealt with caution and objectivity.  Additional info can be found at

~Ed Deboo, PT