HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) --When it comes to competing in sports, student athletes and doctors can agree that heads and hearts are very important.
But while children and teens might not think about it, physicians warn that one powerful hit could change their lives forever.
Concussions can be extremely dangerous but there are often missed signs, according to Dr. Kenneth Podell of the Houston Methodist Concussion Center.
The tell-tale concussion symptoms include:
- Sudden mood changes
- Complaints about headaches
- Loss of consciousness
But, according to Dr. Podell, there are other side effects that sometimes won't show up until weeks and months after a concussion, like slipping grades, memory loss and an inability to focus in school.
WATCH: All parents must be alert for concussions, not just sports moms
Rice University soccer player Britton Cartwright gave up the sport after suffering eight diagnosed concussions.
Cartwright's parents became concerned when the typical A and B student began earning much lower scores on tests and other coursework.
Podell said Cartwright's issues are more common than people realize about concussions.
"They go to class and they can just sit there, zone out, they'll be distracted, they won't learn anything," Podell said. "For 99 percent of the population, it's not about getting back to the game. It's about getting back to school."
But if you think it can only happen if your student is an athlete, think again.
Dr. Summer Ott, who works for Memorial Hermann Ironman Sports Medicine Institute, says more concussions are actually happening off the field, and that parents need to be alert even if your kids don't play sports.
Even in injuries where a child or teen was wearing a helmet, Ott says there still can be metabolic and chemical changes that can affect them in the future.
"At the end of the day, if there's enough force, if your brain moves inside your skull like an egg yolk inside an egg, it can cause different changes to occur," Ott says.
TONIGHT AT 10 P.M.: Meet the local father who is fighting to make mandatory EKG heart scans for student athletes a Texas law.
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