Sports Medicine - signs of a concussion

signs of a concussion

The definition of a concussion is a brain injury that is caused by either a direct blow to the head, face, neck or elsewhere on the body with a force that is transmitted to the head.  A person can display rapid impairment that resolves spontaneously, demonstrate functional rather than structural disturbance, and has a graded set of clinical symptoms which resolve in a sequential course with certain exceptions.

A concussion typically does not need any clinical imaging like a CAT scan or MRI of the brain, however these tests are performed to rule out any life-threatening conditions like an intracranial bleed.

The most typical signs of a concussion are headache, feeling slowed down, dizziness, nausea, and emotional and/or behavioral changes like anger, crying, or irritability.  Football is the most common sport for males to sustain a concussion while soccer is the most common sport for females.  Most concussions occur during a game rather than practice.

In adults, the leading cause of a concussion is a fall.  Typically, if a coach, referee, or trainer suspects a concussion in their student athlete a sideline evaluation occurs.  If a concussion is diagnosed by the athletic trainer and/or team physician, that athlete is not allowed to return to the game.

In the state of Ohio there is a law that states any athlete that is diagnosed with a concussion is not allowed to return to the same game.  That athlete must be evaluated by a physician and complete the return to play process before being able to return to their sport.  Some athletes may need special therapy to correct some of their deficits.

If a concussion is suspected, it is best for the athlete to remain out of practice or a game.  They should rest and hydrate.  If noise is bothering the athlete, they should go into the locker room or their parents should take them to a quiet area.  That night, the athlete should hydrate and eat if they do not feel nauseated.  Parents do not have to wake their child up every hour or two.  If the patient still has any concussion signs the next morning, they should be formally evaluated by a concussion expert.  Some patients may need time away from school for their symptoms to decrease enough that they can tolerate some school on a half day basis.

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