How Many Concussions Are Too Many for a Young Athlete?


My 16-year old daughter has had two concussions — one while skiing, the other while biking. Now she wants to get into competitive cheerleading. Should I let her?


That depends on several factors. When were the concussions and how close together were they time-wise? If one of her concussions is recent — and especially if she is still experiencing post-concussive symptoms such as headache, fatigue, irritability, and sleep problems — taking on cheerleading or any other sport right now would be inadvisable. Balance can be affected and vertigo or dizziness can also be an issue following a concussion; these symptoms increase the risk of re-injury.

Two concussions within a few months would be a concern, especially if your daughter had not fully recovered from the first concussion before she sustained the second. The first concussion puts her at risk for what is called "second impact syndrome," in which the effects of the second brain injury are more magnified than they would have been had there been no first concussion. And a third concussion, should one occur with the cheerleading, would also have a great effect on the brain and increase her likelihood of having permanent problems.

As for cheerleading specifically, if your daughter is a "tossee" — the one who is tossed into the air and caught or who balances precariously on top of others — then this is particularly a concern. The "tossee" in a cheerleading squad is most at risk for falling. A "tosser" — the one who throws another person and catches her — is at lower risk of injury, but every person in the squad plays an integral role in their own and their teammates' safety.

I would recommend against participating in cheerleading until at least a year has passed since the second concussion. This is a conservative recommendation. There are no standard guidelines as to when a child or adolescent should return to sports after a concussion, though some are being developed in certain states. The guidelines that exist are developed for elite athletes who are now recognized to recover more quickly than younger athletes and are monitored more closely for the effects of a concussion.

Since the brains in children and adolescents are still growing, most experts agree that this makes the young brain more susceptible to the effects of the concussion and that it takes longer to recover.

So … "when in doubt, sit it out."

Posted on BrainLine May 6, 2011.

Comments (41)

I'm 19. I've had three concussions still recovering g my last one. Two we're unrelated -- a fight and another ice skating but I just received another from boxing. I love the sport and wish to stay in it but the doc tells me I should quit but other ppl tell me I'm fine until I get another one then I should quit. Any boxers who got any tips to stay in the sport or if they do after a concussion?

Hi im 13 and i have had 3 concussions , all minor but one of them close to severe all soccer related. If i were to get another concussion, would it be safe to keep playing after i recover?

hi i am 14 years old i’ve had 1 major concussion and 2 minor i love hockey so much and have a lot of skill in it should i still play?

Hi I'm 16 and I've had 4 concussions one just very recently the rest occurring at least a year apart each 2 years prior. I am concerned for my health however I would like to continue pursuing my passions skateboarding, snowboarding, parkour. I know these aren't the safest things to have passions for however it is what I love to do the most. It may be important to mention that I have never had memory loss from any of these concussions however, I have gotten a little wonky directly after. Any recommendations as to what I should do? Any opinions help.

I’ve had 10 concussions most of them have been major and 9 of them accured before I was 15 and the other one last year, I am 23 now. I’ve also had 10 gran mal seizures. Over the last year it’s been getting worse, I get sudden dizziness and anxiety and sometimes my ears will just start ringing really loud out of nowhere. Have any of you had these symptoms?

I have had 17 and I’m 13 most of them occurring when I was 7-8 because of motocross

you should go to the doctor bruv

I’ve had nine concussions three severe close ones required facial surgery 1 Grande Mal Seizure I was shaken at the hospital by Dr.’s trying to get me conscious I was out for 20 minutes 5minutes full stiff jarring seizure. I get daily headaches, migraines every month that last 4 to 10 days. I can’t hold onto a job longer then 11 weeks they fire me due to slow cognitively and I can’t remember all the steps with their software used at work to do my job, I feel stupid and worthless. It’s devastating. Everything getting worse, and now my left hand is having electrical spasms, concerning! I have brain damage! I don’t know what to do?????

I'm 11 and I've had 1 major concussion and I'm wondering should I play football next year

Football is really dangerous, especially for children. If you keep sustaining blows to your head in football, you will be at a higher risk of dying early and receiving mental illnesses.

This is my 10th concussion. 2 from work 6 from sports and the other 2 are to personal. Doctors claim that none of this is normal cause they dont understand how normal I'm feeling cause they said I'm not suppose to be normal. I even get this saying from doctors "how am I not dead yet". My question is how am i feeling so lucky to be alive and what's keeping me here when I could've easily died?

Hi im 14 and I’ve had 8 concussions 3 major 2 minor and I play basketball and I’m going football should I worry about brain damage?

Yes you should, the more concussions you have, the easier you receive them

The fact that you are worried and sought out an opinion should tell you that it isn't a good idea. Please don't risk your next 60-70 years for a couple years of football.

YES. Dude, I am you, 20 years down the road. You have had 3 major and 2 minor concussions THAT YOU KNOW OF. You know what I did today? Walked to the grocery store in the rain....again. I cannot drive. After multiple concussions before football and then a slew after I developed a rare childhood epilepsy in my first year of university. No girls want to date me because they have to drive my ass around. No matter what job you work not having a license is an issue. I take tons of meds every day. I cannot drink alcohol because of the interaction with my meds. I periodically get headaches and miss work. Then there's the seizures. I wouldn't wish them upon my worst enemy. Memory loss, depression, fatigue. My marks in biology, chemistry and physics? 95, 92 and 93. Now I can't read a page of a text book without forgetting what I just read. I can't even get a job in the military. I get called brilliant pretty much every week at my volunteer positions.....and I live in a basement.

Hi I'm 16 years old and I have had 6 concussions lately I have been very angry and agitated is this something to worry about? I haven't had a concussion in about a year. I don't know if its just teenage fazes or if its something to worry about.

im 17 and have had 4 concussions the doctor said that these are normal signs from getting concussions

I am 20 years old and I play college field hockey. I am also a goalie. I just received my fourth concussion, spanning since my sophomore year of high school, and it has been a year since my last one. Is it time to stop playing?

i guess a big part also in mine were, i have never been knocked out and i also finished every game that i got the concussions in even tho they were major i just never noticed i had the concussion until the next day waking up and being in agony and always feeling cold and just no balance what so ever i couldnt take one step infront of the other without falling.

forgot to say 3 of those were major for the second one that i got in the span of 1 month i couldnt even stand up straight in church for new years eve but yet i have no real problems going on in my head im not depressed nothing like that i just wanna live life to fullest and play hockey because i feel like if i quit hockey thats when the depression would kick in and im sure you love field hockey as much as i like ice hockey

nah bro keep on keepin on id say keep playing if its what you love but if not then quit. last hockey season(midget aaa) i had 2 concussions in the span of a month came back and finished the season and then my second game in this year i got another concussion also simply got one from smashing a beer over my head for god sakes. im currently still planning on playing the rest of my season but if i get another concussion im quitting. i simply like hockey too much to just quit without seeing what happens next and its my last year in minor hockey. this last one i had was just a slight concussion the doctor just said youve bruised your brain again. now it depends if you yourself are willing to take that risk im currently 17 years old and have had 4 concussions that i know of and am willing to get another but thats just me.

I know this post is old but this is for future people I am 18 years old I have had 6 major concussion over some years and those big ones have gotten to me I have chronic depression my doctor is afraid that I will get a sub dural hematoma, and if I get another major concussion I have 3 highly probable our come and those are be in a vegetable state for life, go in to a deep coma, or just flat out die. Head injuries are nothing to joke around with don’t be like me either I know for some people it is hard to talk about what’s wrong but you need to talk for your own good I am at the point were I don’t even know what’s wrong with my own body.

My 13 yo son has had two concussion on record with the MD, but more minor head injuries we managed at home. He was hit in lax in mid-may and while he feels fine, he actually has nystagmus (twitchy eyes) we wouldn't have noticed were it not necessary for him to get checked by an MD. He still isn't cleared for contact sports and we have an appointment with a neurological opthamologist next month. To all of you athletes - you might feel fine but you might be exhibiting other, more subtle symptoms, and the long term impacts are not yet understood. Please get yourself checked asap. I'm hoping I can persuade my son quit lax and soccer and switch to tennis or track. My coworker has a son who has had a drop in IQ due to soccer related concussions. It's really bad.

Hi, Im 17 years old and I've probably had 14 or more concussions in hockey. This past year I have had 4. Is it time for me to stop playing hockey? Or is it safe to continue.

It's time to stop buddy. At least move to a non-contact league.

Im 16 and i play travel softball ive had about 8 concussions 4 of which were bad concussions with terrible headaches, naseua, and being knocked out on impact. The other 4 i have had were not as bad but my symptoms are seeming to get worse the more i have. Should i stop playing?

Yes stop playing. i'm 17 and i've had 6 concussions. They were all sustained in a two year period.
i have post concussion syndrome from the second one so i dont advise turning into me haha

this depends if your symptoms are frequent if not and you are not experiencing any difficulties you should be fine

It would be advisable to stop playing hockey for a while. If you are experiencing any symptoms of concussion, you should get checked by a doctor who specializes in head injury and concussion.
I would recommend a year off of hockey (or longer if necessary) unless you feel you are ready.
Make sure to check for symptoms such as headaches, nausea, balance problems, dizziness, fatigue, sensitivity to noise or light, loss of appetite, and insomnia. There are more symptoms, but those are the more noticeable ones.

Don't ask people online! Get into a DR. APPT. With a neurologist! Your life + future are more important than hockey! I have never heard of anyone having so so many concussions! Please get professional advice!
I'm 18 and I have 12 concussions and I'm still doing sports would it be a good idea to stop doing sports?

no play sports

As a hockey trainer, and a hockey Dad, I would say 4 concussions over one season is a high number. If you are playing competitively, I would seek out specialist advise to your susceptibility. The reality is, every time you are concussed, you are injuring your brain. Let me ask you this, if you suffered recurring sprains in your knee, would you continue to play? If you are playing recreational hockey, I would suggest taking a year off to fully recover before returning.
The young men stating such a high number of concussions literally need their heads examined by a concussion specialist. Our son is 14 and plays football, basketball and baseball and received his fourth concussion just today during a game and will see the specialist tomorrow and we will follow his recommendation. Granted their is always recovery time and it will be followed to the letter. Recovery and rest are essential in order that he may rejoin his team. Each year there is a baseline done by the district to evaluate potential concussions. I suggest anyone who has kids playing contact sports, have one done.
I'm 15 and have had 6 concussions, one every year from skiing. In the same night recently I got a concussion, went back out, and managed a massive blow to the head. Should I stop skiing?
I’ve had 4 concussions in my life 3 while playing hockey and I’m almost 19 years old haven’t been knocked out on any of them. I got my first one 7 years ago and never had 2 in the same year and had about 1 1/2 years between a couple of them. I was an average student throughout high school. I just get post concussion syndrome and anxiety gets high. I have taken impact test after my 4 concussion and the scores came back of someone who has never had any sort of trauma to there brain. Just deciding when I call it quits on my hockey career so I have a safe future?
I am 13 years old and have 6 concussions
yall should stop playing sports if you have more then 10 concussions\
Hi, I'm 13 and I've had 3 concussions. All three while playing basketball. I got one when I was 12, and the second two in the same year when I was 13. Now if I get a hit to the head I get dizzy, and a headache. Everything gets really bright and looking at my phone is something I can't do. Even a light tap to the head can cause these problems. I don't want to quit sports but if I need to I will. Not sure what to do...

I am a mother of 3 teenage boys that all play a lot of sports. I think if you have these concussion symptoms triggered so easily you should stop playing because your brain has not fully recovered. definitely go and see your family doctor and get expert advice.

Yes this is what has happened to me I don't know what to do.