December 9, 2023


Concussions are a form of mild traumatic brain injury that can affect individuals of all ages. However, the way these injuries manifest and are managed can vary significantly between children and adults. This article aims to explore the key differences in symptoms, treatment, and recovery timelines for concussions in these two age groups.



  • More likely to exhibit emotional symptoms like irritability or mood swings
  • May complain of physical symptoms like nausea or balance issues
  • Difficulty in articulating cognitive symptoms like confusion or memory loss


  • Often report classic symptoms like headache, dizziness, and confusion
  • More likely to notice and report cognitive issues like memory loss or difficulty concentrating
  • May experience emotional symptoms but are generally better at identifying them



  • Pediatric Glasgow Coma Scale often used for initial assessment
  • More reliance on parent or caregiver observations
  • May require more imaging tests, like CT scans, due to difficulty in articulating symptoms


  • Standard Glasgow Coma Scale for initial assessment
  • Self-reporting is usually more accurate and reliable
  • May avoid unnecessary imaging if symptoms are mild and clearly articulated



  • More emphasis on rest and gradual return to school
  • Treatment often involves a multi-disciplinary team including pediatricians, teachers, and parents
  • Close monitoring for developmental impacts


  • Rest and gradual return to work and physical activities
  • Treatment may involve occupational therapists for work-related adaptations
  • Medication more commonly used for symptom management



  • Recovery can be more unpredictable, sometimes faster due to neuroplasticity
  • Greater risk for second-impact syndrome, where a second concussion occurs before the first has fully healed
  • Long-term effects can potentially affect developmental milestones


  • Generally predictable recovery timelines, usually within 2-4 weeks
  • Lower risk for second-impact syndrome but greater risk for Post-Concussion Syndrome (PCS)
  • Long-term effects more likely to involve issues like chronic headaches or cognitive decline


While concussions share many common features regardless of age, understanding the nuances between children and adults is crucial for accurate diagnosis and effective treatment. Always consult a healthcare provider for a tailored treatment plan, especially when concussions affect younger or older family members differently.


  1. Zemek, R., Barrowman, N., Freedman, S. B., et al. (2016). Clinical Risk Score for Persistent Postconcussion Symptoms Among Children With Acute Concussion in the ED. JAMA, 315(10), 1014–1025.
  2. McCrea, M., Guskiewicz, K., Randolph, C., et al. (2013). Incidence, Clinical Course, and Predictors of Prolonged Recovery Time Following Sport-Related Concussion in High School and College Athletes. Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society, 19(1), 22–33.