Sports Concussions and Lasting Brain Damage
Some Important Facts about Sports Concussions
- A sports concussion is a brain injury.
- All sports concussions are serious.
- Sports concussions can occur without loss of consciousness.
- Sports concussions can occur in any sport.
- Recognition and proper management of Sports Concussions when they first occur can help prevent further injury or even death.
What Is a Concussion?
A sports concussion is caused by a blow to the head or body that causes the brain to move rapidly inside the skull. Any traumatic brain injury can change the way your brain normally functions. Concussions can also occur from a blow to the body that causes the head to move rapidly back and forth. Even a “ding,” “getting your bell rung,” or what seems to be mild bump or blow to the head can be serious.
Concussions can also result from a fall or from players colliding with each other or with obstacles, such as a goalpost.
Concussions can occur in any sport or recreation activity. All coaches, parents, and athletes need to learn concussion signs and symptoms and the proper steps to take if a sports concussion occurs.
All concussions or suspected concussions must be taken seriously. An athlete should be immediately removed from play if a suspected concussion takes place
An athlete should never be allowed to return to play until he or she obtains medical clearance from a trained concussion professional.
How Can I Recognize a Possible Sports Concussion?
To help recognize a sports concussion, you should be on the alert for:
- A forceful bump, blow, or jolt to the head or body that results in rapid movement of the head.
- Any change in the athlete’s behavior, thinking, or physical functioning.
Athletes who experience any of the signs and symptoms listed below after a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or body should be kept out of play the day of the injury . They can return to play when a health care professional, experienced in evaluating for concussion, determines that they are symptom-free.
Remember: When in doubt, keep them out!
Signs Observed by Coaching Staff:
- Appears dazed or stunned
- Is confused about assignment or position
- Forgets an instruction
- Is unsure of game, score, or opponent
- Moves clumsily
- Answers questions slowly
- Loses consciousness (even briefly)
- Shows mood, behavior, or personality changes
- Can’t recall events prior to hit or fall
- Can’t recall events after hit or fall
Symptoms Reported by Athlete:
- Headache or “pressure” in head
- Nausea or vomiting
- Balance problems or dizziness
- Double or blurry vision
- Sensitivity to light
- Sensitivity to noise
- Feeling sluggish, hazy, foggy, or groggy
- Concentration or memory problems
- Does not “feel right” or is “feeling down
You can’t tell a concussion just by looking at an athlete
It is important to remember that you can’t see a concussion by observation and some athletes may not experience and/or report symptoms until hours or days after the injury. It may take days or even weeks for some of the signs and symptoms of a sports concussion to develop.
Any time a sports concussion is suspected, it is important to have the player evaluated by a trained concussion professional before being allowed to resume sporting or educational activities.
Prevent long-term problems.
A concussion that occurs before the brain recovers from the first can increase the likelihood of having long-term problems. In rare cases suffering a second concussion before the brain fully heals can result in brain swelling and even death. Permanent brain damage is known to take place in players who have sustained repeated sports concussions.
This more serious condition involving repetitive concussions is called “second impact syndrome”.
It is important that an athlete be removed from play and not be allowed to return until properly evaluated for a concussion.
“It’s better to miss one game than the whole season.”
Where can you get more information on concussions?
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (NCIPC)
4770 Buford Hwy, NE
Atlanta, GA 30341-3717
TTY: (888) 232-6348
24 Hours/Every Day