Sport Related Concussion
What is a Concussion?
A concussion is a brain injury. Concussions, as well as all other head injuries, are serious. They can be caused by a bump, a twist of the head, sudden deceleration or acceleration, a blow or jolt to the head, or by a blow to another apart of the body with force transmitted to the head. You can’t see a concussion, and more than 90% of all concussions occur without loss of consciousness. Signs and symptoms of a concussion may show up right after the injury or can take house or days to fully appear. All concussions are potentially serious and if not managed properly, may result in complications including brain damage and, in rare cases, even death. Even a “ding” or a bump on the head can be serious. If an athlete reports any symptoms of a concussion, or if you notice the symptoms/signs of a concussion yourself, the athlete should be immediately removed from activity and evaluated by a medical professional. WHEN IN DOUBT, SIT THEM OUT!
Signs and Symptoms of a Concussion
Again, signs and symptoms may appear directly after the injury, or may take hours or days to fully appear. Studies have shown that it takes on average 10-14 days or longer for symptoms to resolve and, in rare cases or if the athlete has sustained multiple concussions, the symptoms can be prolonged. Signs and symptoms of concussions can include: (not all-inclusive)
- Vacant state or seeing stars
- Lack of awareness or surroundings
- Emotions out of proportion to circumstances (inappropriate crying or anger)
- Headache or persistent headache, nausea, or vomiting
- Altered vision
- Sensitivity to light or noise
- Delayed verbal and motor responses
- Disorientation, slurred or incoherent speech
- Dizziness, including light-headedness, vertigo(spinning), or loss of equilibrium(being off balance)
- Decreased coordination and/or reaction time
- Confusion and inability to focus attention
- Memory loss
- Sudden change in academic performance or drop in grades
- Irritability, depression, anxiety, sleep disturbances, and easily fatigability
- In rare cases, loss of consciousness
What should YOU do?
Steps to take if you suspect your athlete has suffered a concussion:
- Remove from activity immediately
- Get athlete evaluated by an appropriate health care provider (AHCP)
- Complete a return-to-play protocol (AT-18 form) once authorized via the treating health care provider
No athlete may return to activity after an apparent head injury or concussion, regardless of how mild the symptoms seem or how quickly the symptoms clear, without written medical clearance from the AHCP. In Florida, a AHCP is defined as either a licenses physician (MD), a licensed osteopathic physician (DO). Close observation of the athlete should continue for several hours.