A concussion is a type of mild head injury. It is caused by a direct hit or blow to the head, neck, or body, which results in some movement of the brain within the skull. This movement then causes a temporary change in how the brain functions. These changes occur at a microscopic level, which means structural damage cannot be seen on a clinical brain scan.

By age 16, one in five children will have suffered from concussion.

Watch as Jack asks Professor Vicki Anderson about how MCRI's research is supporting children and their families with concussion.

Watch as Jack asks Professor Vicki Anderson about how MCRI's research is supporting children and their families with concussion.

What are the signs and symptoms of concussion?

Concussions can be caused by falls, recreational injuries, car accidents, or sports.

While many children with concussion will notice their symptoms improve within a few days, it can take others up to four weeks to recover from a concussion.

Early identification of concussion and appropriate management in the early stages post-injury can help to accelerate recovery. It is therefore important a suspected concussion is not ignored.

Girl holding head after falling off bike

Concussion symptoms

Physical symptoms:

  • Headache
  • Tiredness or fatigue
  • Drowsiness
  • Nausea
  • Balance problems
  • Dizziness
  • Visual problems (blurry, double vision)
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Sensitivity to noise

Cognitive symptoms:

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

Emotional symptoms:

  • Irritability
  • Sadness
  • Nervousness
  • More emotional

Sleep-related symptoms:

  • Difficulty falling or staying asleep
  • Sleeping more than usual
Girl holding head after falling off bike

Who does this effect?

Who does this effect?

  • One in eight children and adolescents has been diagnosed with a concussion by a health professional in Australia.
  • There are many causes of concussions including falls, recreational injuries, car accidents, and sports.
  • While many children with concussion will notice their symptoms improve within a few days, it can take up to 4-weeks to recover from a concussion.
  • Approximately 30 per cent of children may experience symptoms for longer than four weeks.
  • A third of children and adolescents develop mental health problems after a concussion, such as anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress, withdrawal, attention problems and hyperactivity.
  • Childhood concussion can have a significant impact on families due to medical costs, lost school and workdays, stress and worry.
  • Children with concussion should be treated by clinicians from different disciplines who work together to target an individual child’s specific symptoms (physical, cognitive, and mental health).
  • Our research shows that kids do best if they are managed according to current management guidelines (give ref) which involve a gradual return to normal activities.
  • Hear more in our Concussion Podcasts.

Concussion and sport

Concussion and sport

MCRI Professor Vicki Anderson and Franz Babl are leaders in concussion research and have contributed to updating the world's best practice guidelines. Their work has also sparked important conversations around unique treatments for head trauma in children.

Watch as Professor Anderson and Oliver Radford discuss the impact of getting a concussion during adolescence and childhood.

Our vision

Our vision

We aim to:

  • Improve community understanding of how concussion is diagnosed and managed.
  • Understand risk factors for the 30 per cent of children who experience persisting symptoms following a concussion.
  • Discover blood proteins that could help detect which children will experience persisting concussion symptoms, which will allow for early intervention.
  • Improve the effectiveness of treatments available for children and adolescents following concussion.

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