What are the symptoms of a concussion in children?

Symptoms for concussions vary greatly. A child with a concussion may lose consciousness or remain awake throughout the injury. Losing consciousness does not indicate severity of the concussion. Headache and pressure in the head are typical symptoms of concussion. A child with concussion may also experience nausea or vomiting right after the injury, or several hours later. Other symptoms include balance problems or dizziness, double or blurry vision, being bothered by light or noise, concentration or memory problems, or just not feeling “right” and having some levels of confusion. Many children can’t recall events prior to or after a hit or fall and may appear dazed or stunned immediately after the injury. Other symptoms may include clumsy movements, answering questions slowly or not at all, or even forgetting what team they are playing for or where they are.

While some concussion symptoms can appear right after an injury, others may develop minutes or hours afterwards. Most concussion symptoms resolve spontaneously over 7 to 14 days.

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Clumsiness
  • Behavior or personality changes
  • Blurry vision
  • Sensitivity to light or noise
  • Balance problems
  • Memory or concentration problems
  • Loss of consciousness (even brief)

Most (but not all) children with concussions have a headache, often with sensitivity to light and sound. Sometimes children with concussions feel nauseous, and rarely they will have vomiting. They often feel mentally foggy, finding it hard to think and concentrate. They may report dizziness, double vision or blurry vision.

You may notice that they looked dazed, seem confused, can’t remember things from before or after the injury or have slowed or slurred speech. They may look wobbly or off balance. They often will have changes in their sleep patterns, first sleeping more right after the injury, and then having a hard time falling and staying asleep. Kids may feel more emotional and irritable with a concussion. Symptoms often get worse with school work, using a cell phone for texting, playing video games or just being in loud, bright, busy places.

Dr. Christopher C. Giza, MD

The most common symptoms of concussion in children are similar to those in adults: headache, nausea, vomiting, confusion, disorientation, dizziness, memory problems and uncoordination. Personality changes, sleep problems and attention problems may also occur. Vomiting tends to occur more frequently in kids than adults. Any loss of consciousness would indicate a concussion, but the vast majority of concussions don’t have a loss of consciousness.

Continue Learning about Head Injuries

Why Head Injuries Affect Girls Differently Than Boys
Why Head Injuries Affect Girls Differently Than Boys
Bumps and bruises are a normal part of childhood, especially if your young one is a fan of playground activities, like capture the flag or jump rope, ...
Read More
Why is a concussion referred to as a “Brain Sprain?”
Harry G. Kerasidis, MDHarry G. Kerasidis, MD
Like muscle sprains, concussions have temporary symptoms that vary in severity, from mild to moderat...
More Answers
Recognizing Concussion Symptoms in Your Child
Recognizing Concussion Symptoms in Your ChildRecognizing Concussion Symptoms in Your ChildRecognizing Concussion Symptoms in Your ChildRecognizing Concussion Symptoms in Your Child
Don't let hard head hits go unnoticed with these expert tips.
Start Slideshow
Protect Your Noggin With a Bike Helmet
Protect Your Noggin With a Bike Helmet

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.