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What is a Concussion

What is a Concussion?

What exactly is a concussion? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) a concussion is defined as: “a type of traumatic brain injury caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head that can change the way your brain normally works. Sometimes a concussion can even occur from a blow to the body that causes the head to move rapidly back and forth (like a severe whiplash).” It is also referred to as a type of mild Traumatic Brain Injury (mTBI). The definition of concussion itself can be scary! Take a deep breath. You are not alone. In your effort to help your student you may come across incorrect information when searching the internet. Use this guide together with support from a healthcare professional trained in concussion management. This will keep you and your student on track during the recovery. Let’s take this one step at a time …

Important take-away points

  • You are not alone in the recovery process.
  • Concussion is an injury to the brain, not just ‘seeing stars’.
  • It is first important to verify that a concussion has occurred. If a concussion has occurred there are things you can do to help with the recovery. If a concussion has not occurred then there is no need to worry.
  • Most students and athletes will recover completely within 2-3 weeks if given the proper periods of rest and a gradual return to activities.
  • After sustaining a concussion it is very important to avoid any activity that places the student at risk of sustaining another concussion.

Concussions are not new in the medical world, but their occurrence is gaining a more noteworthy stance in the sports community. Click on the following links to learn about the current perspective on concussion.    

A Parent’s Perspective

A Teacher’s Perspective


Julie M. Buxton, MS, OTR/L is an Occupational Therapist with 30 years of experience in the field of brain injury, specializing in pediatric brain injury for the past 28 years. She has co-authored two clinical workbooks in brain injury rehabilitation, and presented nationally and internationally. She is currently an Early Intervention Specialist for York and Adams County, PA.

Cindy Pahr, M.Ed. has 30 years of experience working in special education. She is the Brain Injury Services Coordinator for San Diego Unified School District, and educational consultant and founder of EduCLIME, LLC.  Cindy conducts training and consultation on brain injury strategies for school staff and families and teaches children recovering from brain injuries. Her emphasis is on recovery and adapting to changes post-injury.


American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Committee of the Head Injury Interdisciplinary Special Interest Group. Definition of mild traumatic brain injury. J Head Trauma Rehabil. 1993; 8(3):86–87.

Injury Prevention & Control: Traumatic Brain Injury. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Website. Page last reviewed: March 13, 2013. Page last updated: July 22, 2013. Accessed January 30, 2015.

The Management of Concussion/mTBI Work Group. VA/DoD Clinical Practice Guideline for Management of Concussion/mild Traumatic Brain Injury. Available at .pdf. Published 2009. Accessed August 15, 2012.

Thomas, DG, Apps J, Hoffman R, Benefits of Strict Rest After Acute Concussion: A Randomized Controlled Trial, Pediatrics. 2014; 135 (2): 1-11. doi: 10.1542/peds.2014-0966.

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