A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury that changes the way the brain normally works. A concussion is caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or body that casues the head and brain to move rapidly back and forth. Even a "ding", "getting your bell rung", or what seems to be a mild bump or blow to the head can be serious.
Signs and symptoms of concussion
Signs and symptons of concussion can show up right after the injury or may not appear or be noticed until days or weeks after the injury. Athletes should monitor for one or more symptoms of concussion listed below after a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or body. He/She should refrain from play until a health care professional, experienced in evaluating for concussion, says he/she is symptom-free and OK to return to play.
- Dazed or stunned
- Unsure of surroundings
- Moves clumsily
- Slow to answer questions
- Mood, behavior, or personality changes
- Can't recall events prior or after the hit, fall, or bump
- Headache or pressure in head
- Nausea or vomiting
- Balance problems or dizziness
- Double or blurry vision
- Sensitivity to light or noise
- Feeling sluggish, hazy, foggy, or groggy
- Concentration or memory problems
Concussion danger signs
In rare cases, a dangerous blood clot may form on the brain in a person with a concussion and crowd the brain against the skull. An athlete should receive immediate medical attention if after a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or body he/she exhibits any of the following danger signs:
- One pupil larger than the other
- Is drowsy or cannot be awakened
- A headache that not only does not diminish, but gets worse
- Weakness, numbness, or decreased coordination
- Repeated vomiting or nausea
- Slurred speech
- Convulsions or seizures
- Cannot recognize people or places
- Becomes increasingly confused, restless, or agitated
- Has unusual behavior
- Loses consciousness (even a brief loss of consciousness should be taken seriously)
Why should an athlete monitor their symptoms?
If an athlete has a concussion, his/her brain needs time to heal. While an athlete's brain is still healing, he/she is much more likely to have another concussion. Repeat concussions can increase the time it takes to recover. In rare cases, repeat concussions can result in brain swelling or permanent damage to their brain. They can even be fatal.
What should you do if you think you have a concussion?
If you suspect you have a concussion, immediately stop play and seek medical attention. Do not try to judge the severity of the injury yourself. Seek advice from a health care professional, experienced in evaluating for concussion, before returning to play. Rest is key to helping an athlete recover from a concussion. Exercising or activities that involve a lot of concentration, such as studying, working on the computer, or playing video games, may cause concussion symptoms to reappear or get worse. After a concussion, returning to sports and work is a gradual process that should be carefully managed and monitored by a health care professional.
What should you do if you think a teammate has a concussion?
Have your teammate immediately stop play and seek medical attention. Do not try to judge the severity of the injury yourself. Seek advice from a health care professional, experienced in evaluating for concussion, before allowing your teammate to return to play.