Concussions in Sports: How to prevent and prepare for a concussion.
Dr. Cynthia Jakubiec
Healthy Connection Physical Medicine16626 W. 159th St., Suite 700Lockport, IL815-834-9075
What is a concussion?
A hard blow to the head, neck or upper body which if undetected or prolonged could cause a serious problem along with irritation and/or damage to the brain and nervous system. What happens to the brain during a concussion? The brain is an organ that basically floats inside the skull. It is surrounded by cerebral spinal fluid, which acts as a shock absorber for minor impacts. When the brain moves rapidly inside the skull, a concussion has technically occurred. There are approximately 2 million sports-related concussions in the United States every year.
- 5-10% of Athletes will experience a concussion in any given sport season.
- 100,000 concussions occur per year at all levels of football.
- 60% are from head-to-head collisions.
How to recognize a possible concussion:
To help recognize a possible concussion, you should watch for the following two things among athletes:
1. A forceful bump, blow, or jolt to the head or body that results in rapid movement of the head.
2. Any change in an athlete’s behavior, thinking or physical functioning.
Typical symptoms of a concussion: ·
Feeling “dinged,” stunned or “dazed”
Ringing in the ears · Dizziness
Loss of balance
Double vision, or seeing stars
Symptoms reported by athletes: ·
Headache or “pressure” in head; Headache that worsens over time
Nausea or vomiting
Balance or coordination changes
Double or blurry vision
Sensitivity to light
Sensitivity to noise
Feeling sluggish, hazy, foggy or groggy
Difficulty concentrating or memory problems
Behavioral changes (increased irritability)
Changes in taste and smell (delayed)
Does not feel right or feeling down
Signs of a concussion:
You cannot see a concussion. Some athletes may not report and/or experience symptoms until hours or days after the injury. Thus, make sure you monitor a person or athlete after any type of impact or trauma to the head. What to do if a concussion occurs:
1. Remove the athlete from play.
2. Have the athlete evaluated by a medical professional that is trained in concussions.
Do not judge the severity of injury yourself. As a coach, or parent, recording the following information can help health care professionals in assessing the athlete after the injury:A. Cause of the injury and force of the hit or blow to the head or body.B. Any loss of consciousness and if so for how long?C. Any seizures immediately following the injury?D. Number of previous concussions?3. Keep the athlete out of play the day of the injury and until a health care professional, experienced in evaluating for concussion, says they are symptom free and its okay to return to play.
- Concussion injuries affect brain function, usually for a brief period, resulting in signs and symptoms of concussion.
- A brain injury of this sort may even lead to bleeding in or around your brain causing symptoms, such as prolonged drowsiness and confusion, that may develop right away or even later. Such bleeding in your brain can be fatal.
- Anyone who experiences a brain injury needs to be monitored in the hours afterward and receive emergency care if symptoms worsen.
Mayo Clinic 2013
Second impact syndrome: Experiencing a second concussion before signs and symptoms of a first concussion have resolved may result in rapid and typically fatal brain swelling. However, the time it takes to recover from a concussion is variable, and it is important for athletes never to return to sports while they're still experiencing signs and symptoms of concussion.
Mayo Clinic 2013
If a doctor says it's OK, observation at home must be done; a parent should check on their child every few hours for at least 24 hours.
The parents will need to awaken their child periodically to make sure they can be roused to normal consciousness.
- Rest is the best way to allow the brain to recover from a concussion.
- The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends both physical and mental rest for children.
- This means avoiding general physical exertion as well as activities that require mental concentration, such as playing video games, watching TV, texting or using a computer. School workloads should also be temporarily reduced.
- Avoid pain relievers such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others) and aspirin, as there's a possibility these medications may increase the risk of bleeding.
Baseline Testing: Baseline testing should take place during the pre-season, ideally prior to the first practice. It is important to note that some baseline and concussion assessment tools are only suggested for use among athletes ages 10 years and older. Baseline testing is a pre-season exam conducted by a trained health care professional. Baseline tests are used to assess an athlete’s balance and brain function. Results from baseline tests can be used and compared to a similar exam conducted by a health care professional during the season if an athlete has a suspected concussion.