Kids and Concussions: Learn How to Play it Safe


“The word concussion comes from the Latin word to shake violently. It’s a force that causes a temporary injury to the brain or spinal cord,” says Dr. Sharief Taraman. “A lot of times, people may hit their head and don’t realize it was a concussion.”

Signs of concussion may include:

  • Forgetfulness
  • Confusion
  • Loss of consciousness


If a child is injured during a sports practice, parents and coaches should make sure the young athlete stops playing. “The child needs to avoid any further hits, jolts, shakes or bumps to the head or spine,” says Dr. Taraman. “Make sure they don’t go back [in the game] and get a second hit. Not only is it unsafe, it’s going to make the recovery take longer and affect the child.”


“The vast majority of concussions will resolve themselves and heal relatively well,” says Dr. Taraman. After being diagnosed, parents should follow the Graduated Return to Learn & Play Guidelines advised by their doctor. This includes “slowly ramping up from a total rest period of 24 to 48 hours not visiting social media, texting, etc so the brain can heal,” says Dr. Taraman.

The guidelines include five stages of activity levels, such as:

  • No physical activity
  • Sports-specific exercise
  • Non-contact training drills


  • How many hours should a child rest after an on-field head injury: 24-48
  • What is the number of sports-related concussions that occur every year in the U.S.: 30,000
  • What is the percentage of sports-related concussions involving children between the ages of 8 and 13: 40%

Meet Dr. Taraman - CHOC Pediatric Neurologist

Dr. Sharief Taraman is a pediatric neurologist and assistant professor at University of California, Irvine. He specializes in concussion management.

Dr. Taraman’s philosophy of care: “I love pediatrics. My daughter was born my first day of medical school. I try to help parents understand the balance of the risks and benefits of participating in sports.”

Wayne State University School of Medicine
University of Michigan (B.S., Biochemistry)

Neurology with special qualifications in child neurology

Dr. Sharief Taraman

Concussion Tip Sheet

Signs and symptoms of a concussion can range from mild to severe. The vast majority of concussion patients return to normal if they are treated early and aggressively. View this tip sheet for more information about concussions, how to identify the signs and symptoms and when to seek emergency care.

Football player wearing helmet

Dr. Sharief Taraman on Angels AM830

Dr. Sharief Taraman during a podcast in Seacrest Studio

Travis Rodgers, host of the Angels AM830 morning radio show “The Travis Rodgers Show” broadcast live from Seacrest Studios at CHOC Children’s during “CHOC Week”. In this interview, Travis speaks with CHOC Children’s Pediatric Neurologist Dr. Sharief Taraman about concussions in sports, their long term effects, and how children are particularly vulnerable to serious injury.

CHOC Concussion Program

At CHOC Children’s, we offer clinical expertise in identifying and treating sports injuries in children and teens. Newer guidelines show that kids and adolescents should be managed much more conservatively than adults when it comes to concussion, so a children’s hospital is where young athletes are best treated.

Sleeping child with teddy bear wrapped in bandages

Knowledge is the best medicine. Learn more about your child's health in these features from the experts at CHOC.

Kids and Stomachaches
“No matter what the cause of the stomachache, the pain is real,” says Dr. Mitchell Katz. So what causes tummy trouble? It can be as specific as an ulcer, a dietary issue, pneumonia or a sinus infection.

Overscheduled Kids
“There are a number of studies that suggest kids actually do need some unstructured time,” says Dr. Heather Huszti, a CHOC pediatric psychologist. Kids need moments when they can use their imagination, daydream and even goof off a little bit.

Kids and Germs
“Germs is a nonmedical term for any organism that can cause an infection,” says Dr. Nieves. What kind of infections? Kids, especially in schools, can contract respiratory infections as well as skin infections, says Dr. Nieves.

Subscribe to KidsHealth