Web MD - Concussions can cause real, lasting brain damage. After a concussion, athletes (both professional and student) can suffer from poor attention, headaches, memory problems, and depression—symptoms that may or may not improve with time. Fortunately, big changes seem to be occurring on playing fields that will protect athletes. Parents need to know how to protect their children, too.
A concussion is a brain injury resulting from a blow to the head. By definition, there is no "structural injury"— x-rays or CT scans or MRI scans will not show any problem. Yet there obviously is a problem: the brain, after a concussion, doesn't work right. Neurologic symptoms after a concussion can include unconsciousness, but more often the symptoms are more subtle: disorientation, confusion, and problems with memory and balance. With time and rest, these symptoms will usually improve, especially after a first concussion
New attention lately has been focused on symptoms of concussions that don't improve. Among pro athletes, rising concern about permanent damage has led 106 former NFL football players to sue, accusing the league of negligence in diagnosing and treating their injuries. The NFL, it seems, is listening. They've taken recent stories about one pro team paying extra for tackles that cause game-ending injuries like concussions very seriously.
Unfortunately, young athletes may be more at-risk than the pros. Young brains are still developing, and are more likely to be injured. Repeated concussions appear to be especially dangerous—a "second hit" after a concussion that hasn't completely healed can be catastrophic
What can parents and coaches do to help keep their kids safe?