This fact sheet provides a description of the symptoms and proper ways to handle the occurrence of a concussion during Church-sponsored sports or physical activities. Concussions may occur in any sport or physical activity but are most common in contact and collision activities.
What is a traumatic brain injury (TBI) or concussion?
A TBI is a disruption of normal brain function caused by a hit, bump, or jolt to the head, although not all blows to the head will result in a TBI. A hit to the head can sometimes cause the brain to bounce around in the skull, ultimately leading to brain cells being stretched or damaged. Severe TBIs may result in unconsciousness or memory loss for extended periods of time. Mild TBIs, more commonly called concussions, are usually determined by a less severe change in consciousness or mental status.
Signs and Symptoms
Concussions can affect people physically, emotionally, in their sleeping patterns, and in their ability to think and remember things clearly. Some symptoms are apparent immediately after the concussion, while others may appear days or even months later. People may react differently and show a variety of symptoms when experiencing a concussion.
Symptoms may include:
- Difficulty thinking clearly or concentrating
- Difficulty remembering new information
- Having a slower thought process
- Headache and/or blurry vision
- Nausea and dizziness
- Sensitivity to noise or light
- Balance problems
- Feeling fatigued or having no energy
- Being irritable or sad
- Being nervous and/or anxious
- Being more emotional than usual
- Sleeping more or less than usual
- Having trouble falling asleep
Because concussions can lead to blood clots that push the brain against the skull, certain symptoms can indicate the need for immediate medical attention after a hit to the head. These symptoms may include:
- Persistent headache
- Weakness, numbness, or decreased coordination
- Repeated vomiting or nausea
- Slurred speech
- Looking drowsy or not being able to wake up
- Having one pupil larger than the other
- Having convulsions or seizures
- Not recognizing people or places
- Confusion or agitation
- Unusual behavior
- Losing consciousness
Symptoms in children may also include:
- Persistent crying and being inconsolable
- Not nursing or eating
What to Do if Someone Experiences a Concussion
If you suspect that a participant has experienced a concussion from a fall or hit to the head, remove him or her from the activity for further examination. Seek medical attention immediately. The severity of the concussion should not be determined by a leader or by a parent, but by a health care provider who is knowledgeable about concussions. This health care provider will determine if the injured individual needs to see a specialist.
If someone experiences a concussion during Church-sponsored sports or other physical activities, that individual should not be permitted to continue playing until he or she has seen an appropriate health care provider. It is helpful to record information regarding the circumstances of the injury, such as:
- Cause of injury and force of the blow to the head
- Possible loss of consciousness, and for how long
- Memory loss immediately after the injury
- Occurrence of seizures immediately after the injury
- Number of previous concussions
How to Prevent Concussions
Safety is an important part of Church-sponsored sports and physical activities. Consider all appropriate safety rules and the use of proper safety equipment. Participants should also be aware of the risks involved in certain activities and encouraged to avoid contact that could result in a concussion.
- “Responding to a Concussion and Action Plan for Coaches” [Accessed June 13, 2017]
- “A Fact Sheet for High School Parents” [Accessed June 13, 2017]
- “TBI: Get the Facts” [Accessed June 13, 2017]