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Traumatic Brain Injury Prevention

The Injury Prevention Program works to prevent traumatic brain injuries among children by supporting the implementation of proven prevention, diagnosis and management strategies related to concussions.


Traumatic Brain Injury Prevention

What is a concussion?

A concussion is a type of brain injury that changes the way the brain normally works. A concussion is caused by a bump, blow or jolt to the head. It can also be caused by a blow to the body that causes the head and brain to move rapidly back and forth. It is important to know that a concussion can occur without a loss of consciousness.

What are the health consequences of a concussion?

Concussions can have serious long-term health effects, especially on the developing brains of children and teens. Untreated concussions can have serious consequences:

  • Post Concussion Syndrome is a series of symptoms that can be experienced for weeks, months or more than a year after the concussion.
  • Second Impact Syndrome is a rare condition in which a second, often mild, impact occurs when someone is still suffering from an initial concussion that results in 50% of the cases ending in death and the other half in permanent brain damage.
  • Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) is a progressive degenerative disease resulting from multiple concussions.

How can I help my child prevent a concussion?

There are steps that can be taken to prevent concussions:

  • Make sure they follow rules for safety and rules of the sport
  • Encourage them to practice good sportsmanship
  • Make sure they wear the right protective equipment for each type of activity.

Click here to learn which helmet should be worn for which activity.

Proper recognition and response can prevent further injury and can help with recovery. If treated properly, the majority of people will fully recover from a concussion. However, untreated concussions can lead to serious injury or death. It is important to learn the signs and symptoms of a concussion.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has created a concussion prevention campaign with information for parents, schools, coaches and youth athletes. Make sure your child's school and coaches are aware of this information. The Heads Up toolkits can be downloaded for free at

What are the signs and symptoms of a concussion?

The signs and symptoms of a concussion may occur minutes, hours or days after the injury. It is important to watch for changes in behavior. If one or more of the symptoms below are identified, seek medical attention right away.



What should I do if my child has a concussion?

  • Seek medical attention right away from a health care professional experienced in evaluating and treating concussions.
  • A concussed brain needs time to heal. Physical activities and activities requiring a lot of concentration should be limited and monitored by a health care professional.
  • Avoid over-stimulation
  • Refrain from giving them any medication unless prescribed by the doctor
  • Learn more about the potential long-term effects of concussions and the dangers of returning too soon to normal activities.

How can I help my child return to school safely after a concussion?

  • Inform your child's teachers, school nurse, coach, counselor and others about your child's concussion and develop a plan to limit physical and cognitive activities until your child has fully recovered.
  • Allow for extra time and a quiet location for homework.
  • Talk with your child often about feelings of frustration, sadness and isolation as a result of having to limit normal activities.
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Youth Sport Concussion Laws in Virginia

In July 2011 Virginia implemented the Youth Sport Safety Act in the Code of Virginia §22.1-271.5 that required all schools to develop policies and procedures pertaining to the education of coaches, parents and athletes, handling of suspected concussions among student-athletes and return to play protocol. These policies and procedures are required to be based on guidelines developed by the Virginia Board of Education. Click here to view the guidelines.

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Bicycle Helmet Laws in Virginia

Virginia does not have a state bicycle helmet law. However, Virginia Code §46.2-906.1 enables localities to pass local ordinances requiring the use of bicycle helmets by children fourteen and younger. To view Virginia localities with bicycle helmet ordinances and learn about other Virginia bicycle laws visit the Virginia Department of Transportation.

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Free Resources

Heads Up Concussion Prevention Campaign: Centers for Disease Prevention and Control

Brain Injury Association of Virginia

Sports Legacy Institute

Virginia High School League

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Last Updated: 03-07-2013

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