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Published: August 25, 2023

Exploring the Primary Factors Behind Pediatric Concussions in Sports

In recent years, pediatric concussions in sports have emerged as a growing concern. This blog post aims to shed light on the primary factors contributing to these concussions, including statistical insights, symptom recognition, action plans, recovery through physical therapy, prevention strategies, and legal options for concerned parents. By exploring these topics, we hope to raise awareness and promote informed decision-making to ensure the safety and well-being of young athletes.

Statistics on Pediatric Concussions in Sports:

According to recent statistics, approximately 7% of US children experienced concussion symptoms in 2020. The risk of concussions increases with age, with 2% of children under 5 and 12% of 12-17 year-olds being affected. Boys are slightly more affected than girls, with percentages of 8% and 6%, respectively. It is important to note that concussions can occur in any sport, even when wearing helmets. Additionally, the delayed onset of symptoms can make it challenging for parents to notice and treat concussions promptly.

Recognizing the Telltale Signs - Pediatric Concussion Symptoms:

Parents and coaches need to be aware of the signs of a concussion to initiate timely action. If signs of a concussion are observed, it is crucial to remove the child from the activity immediately. Seeking immediate medical attention from a licensed physician is essential to properly assess the head and any potential injuries and diagnose a concussion. Coaches should undergo concussion management training to ensure they can respond appropriately. 

Concussions in children can be particularly challenging to detect, as they may not always exhibit obvious symptoms or may have difficulty communicating their symptoms. Common signs of a pediatric concussion include headaches, dizziness, nausea or vomiting, balance problems, sensitivity to light or noise, changes in sleep patterns, fatigue, irritability, and difficulty concentrating or remembering. It is important for parents and coaches to closely monitor a child's behaviour and look out for these signs, even if they seem minor. Ignoring or downplaying these symptoms can lead to more serious complications or prolonged recovery time for the child.

Action Plan for Suspected Concussion During a Pediatric Sports Activity:

Once a concussion is diagnosed, a comprehensive action plan is necessary for the child's recovery. Physical therapists play a vital role in evaluating and tailoring treatment for each concussion case. They help the child regain strength and endurance through a personalized exercise plan. Rest is also crucial for brain healing, and physical therapists create headache-reduction plans that include motion exercises and stretches. Vestibular therapy is often used to decrease dizziness and improve balance.

In addition to physical therapy, a multidisciplinary approach involving healthcare professionals such as physicians, neuropsychologists, and athletic trainers is essential for the child's recovery. The pediatrician will monitor the child's overall health and guide when it is safe to return to sports activities. Neuropsychologists will assess cognitive function and provide strategies for managing any cognitive difficulties that may arise. Athletic trainers can help with implementing a gradual return-to-play protocol, ensuring that the child does not return to sports too soon and risks further injury. By collaborating as a team, these professionals can provide comprehensive care to support the child's recovery and facilitate a safe return to sports.

Exploring Pediatric Concussion Recovery Through Physical Therapy:

Physical therapists assess the completion of therapy programs to determine when a child is ready to return to sports. All symptoms need to disappear before allowing the child to resume activities, as premature release may lead to symptom recurrence. A careful evaluation by a physical therapist ensures a safe return to sports. Their decision is crucial in determining the child's readiness to participate again. 

According to the information provided, sports are a leading cause of pediatric concussions. Statistics show that 7% of US children experienced concussion symptoms in 2020, with the risk increasing with age. Boys are slightly more affected than girls, with 8% versus 6% experiencing concussions. Parents and coaches need to recognize and respond to concussions during sports by removing the child from the activity and seeking immediate medical attention from a licensed physician. Physical therapy plays a crucial role in concussion recovery, with physical therapists evaluating and tailoring treatment plans to help the child regain strength and endurance. Rest is also essential for brain healing, and headache reduction plans and vestibular therapy can be used to address specific symptoms. Determining readiness to return to sports requires careful evaluation by a physical therapist, as symptoms must disappear completely before the child can participate again. 

Prevention and Precautions in Safeguarding Your Child's Sports Experience:

Preventing pediatric concussions in sports is of utmost importance. Parents and coaches should prioritize the use of proper safety equipment and ensure that it is well-maintained. Educating children about the risks of concussions and the importance of reporting any symptoms is crucial. Regular check-ups and communication with healthcare professionals can also contribute to early detection and prevention of concussions. 

In addition to preventing concussions, other precautions can be taken to safeguard your child's sports experience. Parents and coaches need to be aware of the signs of overtraining and burnout in young athletes. Pushing children too hard or placing excessive pressure on them can lead to physical and emotional exhaustion, which can negatively impact their overall well-being. Encouraging a balanced approach to sports, with adequate rest and recovery, can help prevent injuries and ensure a positive experience for your child. Regular communication with coaches and monitoring your child's physical and emotional well-being can also help identify any potential issues early on and address them appropriately.


Pediatric concussions in sports are a serious concern that requires attention from parents, coaches, and healthcare professionals. Recognizing the signs of a concussion, seeking immediate medical attention, and following a comprehensive recovery plan is essential for the child's well-being. The New Jersey Concussion Center at the New Jersey Pediatric Neuroscience Institute is dedicated to providing exceptional care and support for children who have suffered concussions. We prioritize the well-being of your child and work closely with parents, coaches, and healthcare professionals to ensure a safer sports experience. Together, we can make a difference and promote the health and safety of our children.

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