Concussion & You: What is a concussion?

By Dr. Nick Reed

Playing sports can positively affect the physical, mental and social development of youth. That’s why it’s so important to help kids get back to doing what they need, want and love to do should they sustain a concussion. So what do you need to know as a parent, player or coach?

Let’s start with what a concussion is. A concussion is a brain injury that can affect how your brain works. Concussions may happen because of a hit to the head, face, neck or somewhere else on the body. When a hit takes place, the brain moves back and forth inside the skull. If it moves hard enough, the brain can become injured. This injury can make your brain and body work and feel different.

Did you know that you can have a concussion without losing consciousness? Or that a child’s brain reacts differently to concussions than an adult’s?

Here are six things that you should know about youth concussion:

Everyone’s concussion experience is different and not everyone reacts the same way.  For some people, concussions heal quickly, and for others, the road to recovery is longer.  It’s hard to predict how long a concussion will last, but knowing what to look for is a key first step. Check out Concussion & You: A Handbook for Parents and Kids in English or French, by visiting our website.

Stay tuned to the next edition of GTHL Breakout Express where we’ll talk about signs and symptoms of concussion.

The Concussion Centre at Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital is one of the first in the world dedicated exclusively to pediatric concussion. The Centre includes clinicians specifically trained in pediatric brain injury and researchers who are leading experts in the field of youth concussion care, research and education. The Concussion Centre is focused on getting kids back to doing what they need, want and love to do after sustaining a concussion. To learn more, visit

For more information about the Holland Bloorview Concussion Centre, or to download a free copy of Concussion & You: A Handbook for Parents and Kidsplease visit


Dr. Nick Reed is a clinician scientist in the Bloorview Research Institute and co-director of the Concussion Centre at Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital. He is also an Assistant Professor within the Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy at the University of Toronto. In 2015, Dr. Reed received the Dr. Tom Pashby Sports Safety Fund Award that recognizes individuals who have contributed significantly to the prevention of catastrophic injuries in sport and recreational activities.

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