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Concussion: Learn How to Respond

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image Download concussion posters for young athletes

Know your concussion ABCs: A - Assess the situation. B - Be alert for signs and symptoms. C - Contact a health care professional.

What is a Concussion?

A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury that changes the way the brain normally works. A concussion is caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head. Concussions can also occur from a fall or blow to the body that causes the head and brain to move rapidly back and forth. Even what seems to be a mild bump to the head can be serious.

How Can Concussions Happen in Schools?

Photo: Children in a swing.Children and adolescents are among those at greatest risk for concussion. Concussions can result from a fall, or any time a student's head comes into contact with a hard object, such as a floor, desk, or another student's head or body. The potential for a concussion is greatest during activities where collisions can occur, such as during physical education (PE) class, playground time, or school-based sports activities.

Students may also get a concussion when doing activities outside of school, but then come to school when symptoms of the concussion are presenting. For example, adolescent drivers are at increased risk for concussion from motor vehicle crashes.

Concussions can have a more serious effect on a young, developing brain and need to be addressed correctly. Proper recognition and response to concussion symptoms in the school environment can prevent further injury and can help with recovery.

What Can I Do to Prevent and Prepare for Concussions?

Here are some steps you can take to prevent concussions in school and ensure the best outcome for your students:

Download or order CDC's "Heads Up to Schools: Know Your Concussion ABCs" resources. Developed in collaboration with over 30 school, health, and medical organizations, the "Heads Up to Schools: Know Your Concussion ABCs," materials include free resources for school nurses, administrators, counselors, teachers, parents, and students. See Heads Up to Schools, Know Your Concussion ABC's.

Prepare a concussion action plan. To ensure that concussions are identified early and managed correctly, have an action plan in place before the start of the school year. This plan can be included in your school or district's concussion policy. See online action plan for sports and recreation activities.

Create safe school environments. Make sure your school has policies and procedures to ensure that the environment is a safe, healthy place for students. Talk to all school staff and administrators and encourage them to keep the physical space safe, keep stairs and hallways clear of clutter, secure rugs to the floor, and check the surfaces of all areas where students are physically active, such as playing fields and playgrounds. Playground surfaces should be made of shock-absorbing material, such as hardwood mulch or sand, and maintained to an appropriate depth. Proper supervision of students is also important.

Monitor the health of your student athletes. Make sure to ask whether an athlete has ever had a concussion and insist that your athletes are medically evaluated and are in good condition to participate in sports. Keep track of athletes who sustain concussions during the school year. This will help in monitoring injured athletes who participate in multiple sports throughout the school year.

Follow us on FacebookExternal Web Site Icon and learn more about concussion and how to help prevent, recognize, and respond to this serious injury at: www.cdc.gov/Concussion.


More Information


Partnering to Help Take Concussions Out of Play

CDC/NFL Concussion Poster for Players

For NFL Players

A poster on concussion in sports is displayed in every NFL locker room nationwide. The poster, developed for NFL players, is the result of a joint effort between the NFL, NFL Players Association, CDC, Professional Football Athletic Trainers Society, and the NFL Physicians Society and describes the importance of recognizing a concussion, taking time to recover, and not returning to play too soon.

View the poster for NFL players Adobe PDF file [1.9MB]



Concussion poster for young athletes of all sports

For Young Athletes of All Sports

A similar poster educating young athletes about concussion in all sports is now available to display in team locker rooms, gymnasiums, and schools nationwide. This poster lets athletes know that all concussions are serious and emphasizes the importance of reporting their injury. The poster also provides athletes with a list of concussion signs, symptoms and steps they should take if they think they have a concussion. 

The poster for young athletes is the result of a joint effort between the NFL, CDC, and NFL Players Association, as well as 16 National Governing Bodies for Sport. Additionally, the poster has been endorsed by the American College of Emergency Physicians and the American Association of Neurological Surgeons.

View the fact sheet for young athletes:

Order the poster — Concussion: A Must Read for Young Athletes

Watch a video with NFL Commissioner Roger GoodellExternal Web Site Icon

List of participating National Governing Bodies for Sport:

  • USA Football
  • US Lacrosse
  • USA Rugby
  • USA Baseball
  • USA Basketball
  • USA Field Hockey
  • USA Hockey
  • USA Cheer
  • USA Softball
  • USA Volleyball
  • USA Diving
  • USA Roller Sports
  • USA Cycling
  • US Ski and Snowboard Association
  • USA Skateboarding
  • US Soccer

CDC encourages you to talk with your coaches, parents, athletes, and others about concussion in all sports and the steps to take to help prevent, recognize, and respond to this serious injury. By knowing the facts about concussion and when athletes can safely return to play, we can help athletes of all ages stay active and healthy.


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