Understanding Concussions

Our doctors have expertise and experience in working with children, adolescents, and young adults who have sustained sports-related concussions. We have assisted with return to play decision making for athletes from recreational leagues, high school athletics, college athletics, and professional sports organizations. Through the use of neuropsychological tests, which measure memory, attention, processing speed, and reaction time, our doctors will work with your treating physician or athletic trainer to determine when it is safe to return to physical activity.

Dr. Kirk has been credentialed as an independent concussion expert through the National Hockey League (NHL) and Major League Soccer (MLS). He currently serves as the backup neuropsychologist for the Colorado Avalanche and Colorado Rapids, to assist with return to play decision making after an athlete has sustained a concussion.


What is a concussion?

  • A concussion occurs when there is a physical blow to the body or head causing an injury to your brain.
  • Shortly after a concussion, the athlete may experience cognitive, physical, and emotional symptoms.
The Youth Athlete

How common are concussions?

  • 1 out of 10 high school athletes who participate in contact sports will sustain a concussion each season
  • It’s estimated that up to 20% of high school football players will sustain a concussion per season
  • Younger athletes are at high risk for sustaining a concussion and may take longer to recover
signs & symptoms

What to watch for in your child:

  • Appears dazed or confused
  • Answers questions slowly
  • Personality/behavior change
  • Forgets plays prior to hit and/or after hit
  • Retrograde amnesia (not clearly recalling events after injury)
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Persistent headaches
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Balance difficulties
  • Double or blurry vision
  • Sensitivity to light and/or sounds
  • Feeling sluggish or foggy
  • Changes in sleep pattern
  • Memory and/or attention problems
Supporting Your Child

What to do if a child sustains a concussion?

  • After a suspected concussion, a physician should always evaluate your child.
  • Depending on the severity of your child’s injury and symptoms, your child’s physician may order neuroimaging procedures (i.e., MRI or CT Scan).
  • It is very important to rest from physical activity while one is recovering from a concussion; however, your child should try to return to school as soon as possible, with a “safety net” of accommodations and modifications in place.
    For example, Dr. Kirk typically recommends that upon returning to school, the child is allowed to take breaks during the school day, postpone exams, and have limited homework demands.
  • Most children experience a full recovery within a matter of days to weeks following an uncomplicated concussion; however, if your child’s post-concussive symptoms persist beyond 2-3 weeks and/or they are struggling in school, they should be referred to a neuropsychologist.
  • Our doctors also recommend a neuropsychological evaluation prior to return to play for athletes who have a history of multiple concussions.
  • Our doctors are available for presentations regarding concussion awareness and safe concussion management.