Signs & Symptoms

Signs & Symptoms

General symptoms

Headache, fatigue, and concentration problems are the most common, and often resolve. Some children recover quickly, others will need more time.

Common symptoms

  • Complains of headache
  • Appears more tired or fatigued
  • Appears drowsy
  • Sleeping more than usual
  • Complains of nausea

Suggested strategies

If your child has symptoms, encourage them to get back to a routine of physical, social and school activity and within their limits and gradually. Encourage healthy sleep routines, but not total rest past the first few days.

Physical symptoms

Don’t worry, following a concussion your child may have physical symptoms like; dizziness, reduced balance and neck pain. Slowly getting back to normal activity is important as it helps recovery.

Following a concussion your child may find lights (e.g., daylight) too bright or sound too loud (e.g., tv). Don’t worry if your child is sensitive to light or sound. Tolerable sensation is part of the recovery.

Common symptoms

  • Has balance problems
  • Appears or complains of dizziness
  • Appears to move in a clumsy manner
  • Has or complains of visual problems (blurry, double vision)
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Sensitivity to noise

Suggested strategies

Encourage your child to take regular breaks between activities. Give time to let your child’s symptoms come down after activity.
It’s important to make sure your child does some gentle exercise. Total rest will not help the recovery process. The body needs to move.

Your child may find that symptoms develop in busy environments or when traveling in a car or on public transport. This is common, don’t avoid these areas. To manage, they may need regular ‘time out’ quiet breaks.

Make sure that your child is taking regular breaks between sensory stimulation or busy environments. Give time to let your child’s symptoms come down after they escalate.

Thinking & Memory symptoms

Straight after a concussion some children find paying attention, learning and recalling information more challenging.

Common symptoms

  • Acts or appears mentally “foggy”
  • Has difficulty concentrating
  • Has difficulty remembering
  • Becomes confused with directions or tasks
  • Answers questions more slowly than usual

Suggested strategies

Check in with the amount of school your child is attending and school work they are doing. If this isn’t back to usual levels, add in more study or homework every day as tolerated.
Adapt your expectations to your child’s functioning. If they are overwhelmed with long instructions, or confused, use short simple sentences. Help them with rest breaks, a quiet study area, and any learning supports they needed.

Emotional symptoms

Recovery from concussion can be a difficult time in their life, but making a choice to deal with these things in a positive way will help them feel good about themselves.

Common symptoms

  • Acts irritable
  • Appears sad
  • Acts nervous
  • Acts more emotional

Suggested strategies

Your child may experience distressing feelings about their situation. What children think affects how they feel. Encourage them to take a different perspective on their situation to help reduce their distress. Offer words of support and praise when you can.
Encourage your child to try a relaxation technique. There are lots to choose from – so choose one they are open to trying. Some include belly breathing, visualisation, and mindfulness practice.