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Youth Sports Concussions

Violence and Injury Prevention Program

  •  850-245-4455

    Mailing Address

    4052 Bald Cypress Way, Bin A13 

    Tallahassee, FL 32399-1722 



A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury (TBI) caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head that causes the head and brain to move quickly back and forth. A blow elsewhere on the body can cause a concussion even if an athlete does not hit his/her head directly. Concussions can range from mild to severe, and athletes can get a concussion even if they are wearing a helmet.

Concussions can occur in any sport, but more often are the result of ice hockey and football injuries. Equestrian sports also have a high rate of concussion, as do boxing, soccer, bicycling, martial arts, wrestling, and lacrosse.

In 2009 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated that at least 2.4 million emergency department visits, hospitalizations or deaths were related to a TBI. Nonfatal sport and recreation-related TBIs to children and youth ages 19 and under accounted for 173,285 visits to emergency departments during 2001–2009 and also resulted in 9,300 to 14,000 hospitalizations each year.

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When to Seek Help

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) you should watch for the following two factors among your athletes to help recognize a concussion:

  1. A forceful bump, blow, or jolt to the head or body that results in rapid movement of the head
  2. Any changes in the athlete’s behavior, thinking, or physical functioning

The CDC also uses four categories to classify symptoms of concussions:





Difficulty thinking clearly

Fuzzy or blurry vision


Sleeping more than usual

Feeling slowed down

Nausea or vomiting (early on)


Sleeping less than usual

Difficulty concentrating

Sensitivity to noise or light

More emotional

Trouble falling asleep

Difficulty remembering new information

Feeling tired, having no energy

Nervousness or anxiety

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Potential Complications

It is important for anyone who has a head injury to be evaluated by a doctor, even if emergency care is not required. The Mayo Clinic lists potential complications that may arise from a concussion, these include:

Epilepsy: People who have had a concussion double their risk of developing epilepsy within the first five years after the injury.

Post-concussion syndrome: Some people begin having post-concussion symptoms—such as headaches, dizziness and difficulty thinking—a few days after a concussion. These symptoms may continue for weeks to a few months after a concussion.

Post-traumatic headaches: Some people experience headaches within a week to a few months after a brain injury.

Post-traumatic vertigo: Some people experience a sense of spinning or dizziness for days, weeks or months after a brain injury.

Second impact syndrome: Experiencing a second concussion before signs and symptoms of a first concussion have resolved may result in rapid and usually fatal brain swelling.

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Coaches, parents and athletes all play a role in preventing concussions. Some ways in which they can do this it through:

Education: Before the first practice, coaches and school officials should talk to the parents and athletes about the dangers of concussions and potential long-term consequences of concussions.

Monitor the health of the athletes: Coaches should ask if an athlete has ever had a concussion and insist that athletes are medically evaluated and are in a condition to participate. Parents, athletes and coaches should inquire if the school or league conducts pre-season baseline testing.

Insist that safety comes first: Coaches and parents should encourage the athletes to follow the rules of play and to practice good sportsmanship at all times. Coaches should teach and have the athletes practice safe playing techniques. Remind athletes to tell coaching staff right away if they suspect they have a concussion or that a teammate has a concussion.

Teach athletes that it is not smart to play with a concussion: After a concussion, rest will be imperative. Parents and/or coaches should not let others pressure the injured athlete to return to play before they are ready. At the same time, do not let the athlete convince you that they are “just fine.”

Keep track of concussion: Coaches should work with other school or league officials to review injuries that occurred during the season. Discuss with others any needs for better concussion prevention or response preparations.

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