Concussion and mild head injury factsheet


A concussion is an injury caused by sudden, strong brain movement against the skull. Concussion is usually caused by a hit to the head from:

  • another person
  • an object
  • a surface, like falling onto a wall or floor.

Concussions can happen even if your child did not lose consciousness or pass out after a hit to the head.

 Signs and symptoms

If your child has a hit to the head, neck, or body, they should stop what they are doing immediately and be checked by a parent or carer.

If the hit has caused strong movement in the head and neck, you will need to check them for signs of concussion up to 48 hours after the hit.

Signs and symptoms of concussion may not show up for 24-48 hours after the head injury. 

Common signs of a concussion in children include:

  • appearing dazed or stunned
  • repeating questions you ask them
  • having problems remembering before or after the hit
  • showing personality or behaviour changes
  • having trouble moving or walking
  • feeling generally unwell.

Make sure to write down:

  • what type of symptoms your child is having
  • when they happen
  • how long they last
  • how severe they are.

When to take your child to your local doctor

See your local doctor immediately if your child:

  • has a fit or seizure
  • has a headache or feels pressure in their head
  • is dizzy or losing balance
  • is nauseous or vomiting
  • feels numbness or tingling in their head or body
  • feels very tired or starts to fall asleep at odd times
  • becomes sensitive to light and noise
  • starts to have trouble with their vision
  • has trouble sleeping
  • feels more emotional than usual, for example, sad or anxious
  • has trouble thinking clearly, concentrating or remembering things
  • does not feel “right”.

When to take your child to the emergency department

The HEAD BUMPS acronym is an easy way to know when to take your child to the emergency department. 

If your child shows any of these symptoms after a concussion, go to your nearest emergency department or call Triple Zero (000) for an ambulance. 

  • H - worsening HEADACHE, having a seizure, losing consciousness or passing out
  • E - worsening EYE problems like blurred or double vision
  • A - ABNORMAL behaviour change
  • D - DIZZINESS and constant vomiting
  • B - BALANCE issues with weakness or numbness in legs and/or arms
  • U - UNSTEADY on feet and slurred speech
  • M - MEMORY is worse, feeling confused and upset
  • P - POOR concentration, feeling drowsy and sleepy
  • S - SOMETHING’s not right, and you are generally concerned about your child after their injury. 


A doctor can diagnose a concussion based on: 

  • what happened to your child
  • the symptoms they are having
  • doing a physical check.

They may also order some scans of your child’s head to check for other injuries.


A concussion is treated with physical and mental rest. 

Your child should take a break from the following activities for at least 24-48 hours after they are diagnosed with concussion:

  • exercise and sports
  • using screens like phones, tablets, televisions, and computers
  • studying and going to school.

Talk to your child’s doctor about planning a slow and steady return to their usual activities.

See your local doctor if your child still has symptoms 3-4 weeks after the injury.


Return to school

Your child should be able to return to school 24-48 hours after concussion, depending on their symptoms and how they are feeling.

Let the school know your child has had a concussion so they can check for symptoms and give extra support throughout the day.

Your child may need a slow return to school after a more severe concussion. This can include:

  • starting with a few hours and building up to a full day
  • changing their timetable and taking rest breaks when needed
  • having extra time and support to complete homework and assignments.

Return to physical activity and sport

Your child should be able to return to light activity 24-48 hours after concussion, depending on their symptoms. Light activities could include a walk or a slow bike ride.

Mild symptoms may come back after light activity but should stop quickly afterwards. 

If symptoms are severe, stop the activity immediately and see your local doctor.

Your child can return to more physical activity and sports after concussion when they: 

  • have returned to school full-time, comfortably
  • are not having symptoms after doing light activity.

Let your child’s school and sports coaches know about the concussion to help them with a slow return to activity and sport.

A slow return to activity and sport can include:

  • starting with low-level activity like a 10-minute walk
  • slowly increasing non-contact activity if there are no symptoms
  • getting approval from your child’s doctor before returning to regular activities like contact and collision sports. 

Return to contact or collision sport

Children should only return to competitive contact or collision sports a minimum of 21 days after the concussion, and only if they are symptom-free.

Your child may be able to return to training after being symptom-free and rested for at least 14 days. 

Sometimes, mild concussion symptoms can come back while exercising but should go away quickly after stopping. 

Stop your child and take them to a local doctor immediately if moderate to severe symptoms return or continue after activity.

Last updated Monday 29th April 2024


This factsheet is provided for general information only. It does not constitute health advice and should not be used to diagnose or treat any health condition.

Please consult with your doctor or other health professional to make sure this information is right for you and/or your child.

The Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network does not accept responsibility for inaccuracies or omissions, the interpretation of the information, or for success or appropriateness of any treatment described in the factsheet.

© Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network 2024