Recognizing and properly managing traumatic brain injuries when they first occur can help prevent further injury or even death.

If you have any concerns about the signs and symptoms listed here, you need to IMMEDIATELY remove yourself/your child from all physical and cognitive activity and go to your primary health care provider, an urgent care facility or an emergency room.

Minnesota state law requires coaches or officials to remove athletes from participating when they exhibit signs, symptoms or behaviors consistent with a traumatic brain injury, or when they are suspected of sustaining a brain injury. (See the next page for more information.)

Common Brain Injury Symptoms

Physical

  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness and/or trouble with balance
  • Visual problems and/or sensitivity to light
  • Sensitivity to noise
  • Numbness and/or tingling

Cognitive

  • Feeling foggy, slowed down, dazed or stunned
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Difficulty remembering
  • Forgetting or feeling confused about recent events
  • Repeating questions or answering them more slowly than usual
  • Changes in school performance

Emotional

  • Irritable
  • Sadness
  • Nervousness
  • Feeling more emotional than usual
  • Showing less interest in favorite activities

Sleep and Energy

  • Fatigue
  • Drowsiness
  • Sleeping more or less than usual
  • Having trouble falling asleep and/or staying asleep

When to Call 911

Call 911 if you/your child sustains a traumatic brain injury and has any of the following signs and symptoms:

Physical

  • Severe head, neck or spine pain
  • Suspicion of a skull fracture
  • Vomiting
  • Difficulty moving arms or legs
  • Shallow, labored breathing or no breaths
  • Change in eyesight
  • Seizure following injury
  • Bulging fontanel (portion of head)
  • General weakness, decrease in strength, numbness, problems walking
  • Drainage from ears or nose

Cognitive

  • Loss of consciousness
  • Change in speech, talking
  • Problems understanding
  • Not oriented to person, place or time

Emotional

  • Change in personality
  • Thoughts of suicide, harming yourself or others
  • Inconsolable

Sleep and Energy

  • Lethargic, difficult to arouse
  • Will not eat or nurse

Also, call 911 if the injury included any of the following:

  • Fall from height that is twice the height of the child
  • High-speed accident (car accident, ATV accident)
  • Hit directly with a hard object (bat, golf club)
  • Penetrating injury to the skull or spine
  • Bleeding that does not stop with direct pressure

Minnesota State Law and Brain Injuries

Effective September 1, 2011, Minnesota state law requires coaches and/or officials to remove a youth athlete from participating in any youth athletic activity when the athlete exhibits signs, symptoms or behaviors consistent with a concussion, or is suspected of sustaining a concussion. When a youth athlete is removed because of a concussion, the athlete may not again participate in the activity until the athlete:

  • No longer exhibits signs, symptoms or behaviors consistent with a concussion
  • Is evaluated by a health care provider trained and experienced in evaluating and managing concussions
  • Receives written permission from the health care provider to again participate in the activity

(CHAPTER 90--S.F.No. 612.)

This information is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to replace the advice of your health care providers. If you have any questions, talk with your doctor or others on your health care team.