If you suspect you or a loved one has a concussion, it’s important to get a medical evaluation soon to ensure your are receiving the proper medical care. A concussion is serious. In most cases, the side effects from a concussion resolve and most don’t need any additional medical management. But some individuals that sustain a concussion can have lingering side effects that may need additional medical help.

Read on to learn what to do to protect your brain from further damage and to heal.

Concussions in Sports

Playing fall sports such as football is a fun, healthy activity for youth. However, it is important to know the injuries that can happen during participation in sports. Each year high school athletes develop thousands of concussions.

Concussions do not always involve a loss of consciousness. Leaving a concussion untreated and continuing on participating in sports can lead to a long time health problems. It is important to understand the symptoms of a concussion and take necessary rest as directed by your health care provider.

What are Symptoms of a Concussion?

According to CDC, typical concussion symptoms include the followings:

Signs Observed by Parents or Guardians

  • Can’t recall events prior to or after a hit or fall.
  • Appears dazed or stunned.
  • Forgets an instruction, is confused about an assignment or position, or is unsure of the game, score, or opponent.
  • Moves clumsily.
  • Answers questions slowly.
  • Loses consciousness (even briefly).
  • Shows mood, behavior, or personality changes.

Symptoms Often Reported by Athletes

  • Headache or “pressure” in head.
  • Nausea or vomiting.
  • Balance problems or dizziness, or double or blurry vision.
  • Bothered by light or noise.
  • Feeling sluggish, hazy, foggy, or groggy.
  • Confusion, or concentration or memory problems.
  • Just not “feeling right,” or “feeling down”.

Realize, however, that each person’s brain and injuries are unique. Some athletes may only have a few symptoms or just mild symptoms while others may lose consciousness. Regardless, it’s important to contact a sports medicine specialist for a full evaluation if you suspect a concussion.

Experiencing concussion symptoms can be scary. Your athlete can suddenly be nauseous, have subtle personality changes or even vomit. However, remember that your child’s body is telling them that the brain is healing and needs extra rest. Most kids feel normal again within two to three weeks, but sometimes it takes longer.

It is imperative that no athlete should be allowed to participate in any physical activity right after a blow to the head. Athletes should always be cleared by a qualified medical professional after sustaining a concussion before returning to play. It’s never safe for coaches or non-medical professionals to make that call.

The athlete should be completely free of symptoms and participate in school fully (if applicable) before returning to sports. Once released by an appropriate health care provider, the child can participate but should take their time and gradually progress back to full activity.

How can you prevent your child from getting a concussion?

  1. Ensure that your athlete wears properly fitted equipment and that it is checked and maintained regularly (if applicable).
  2. Encourage good sportsmanship and promote following the rules.
  3. Teach good technique.

Saint Alphonsus Sports Medicine also offers baseline neurocognitive (concussion) testing to evaluate a healthy athlete’s decision-making ability, reaction time, attention and memory.

Concussion Treatment

Contact your health care specialists early and get a full evaluation as there could be other physical problems as well. Depending on the injury, your athlete could also be facing very serious issues like a cracked skull, bleeding on the brain or extreme dizzyness resulting in vomiting. It’s vital to ensure your athlete isn’t facing life threatening problems before being sent home.

Remember that there is no cure for a concussion, but physical and mental rest is often the first thing athletes need. That means no video games, no exposure to light or mental activity and sometimes no exposure to sound. Being enclosed in a dark room without stimulus is very difficult for young people, but they might extend their recovery or even worsen their symptoms without it.

The concussion clinic at Saint Alphonsus Rehabilitation Services utilizes the expertise of sports medicine specialists, physical medicine and rehabilitation specialists, neurologists, neuropsychologists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists, social workers, and athletic trainers to best manage concussions. Our team can help athletes recover and get back to the sports they love safely.