What is a concussion?
A concussion is defined as a mild traumatic brain injury that occurs when a blow or jolt to the head disrupts normal brain function. An athlete rarely loses consciousness but is commonly dazed or confused. A concussion should not be referred to as a “ding” or getting your “bell rung”. It is a brain injury with possible long term consequences.
Which sports have the highest risk of concussion?
Concussions can occur in ANY sport. Football, though, has a high rate because of its popularity. Boxing, soccer, ice hockey, bicycling, martial arts, wrestling, lacrosse, and equestrian sports also have high rates of concussion.
What are the symptoms of a concussion?
Only about 10% of athletes are knocked out with a concussion. Other symptoms include:
- Difficulty concentrating
- Decreased motivation
- Problems with balance/coordination
- Change in sleep pattern
- More impulsive
- Not remembering things before or after the injury
- Lack of energy
- Easily distracted
- More tired than normal
- Sensitivity to light
- Slower thinking
- Feeling dazed or in a “fog”
- Mood changes
What is post-concussive syndrome?
This is a term that describes the physical, cognitive, and emotional symptoms that are caused by concussion which persist greater than one month out from the injury and that can last for varying amounts of time. The symptoms involve one or more of those symptoms as above.
How long does it take to get better after a concussion?
The average middle/high school athlete recovers within 10 days of their injury however it can take up to a year or longer for some athletes to recover, and in some cases the symptoms won’t go away. Recovery is slower in young athletes because their brains are still developing. Recovery can also be slower in those with a previous history of concussion or with a history of learning disability or ADHD.
When is it safe to return to play?
An athlete may return to activity only when he/she is completely symptom free. Our physicians then return athletes via a gradual return to play protocol. This means that they are not released immediately to full sporting activity but must follow a stepwise protocol with gradual increases in physical exertion to make sure that symptoms do not return.
All athletes who suffer a concussion should be evaluated by a physician so that a full evaluation can be done and a safe and appropriate return to play plan be developed. A new Ohio state law and the Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSAA) rules mandate that only an MD, DO, ATC or other designated licensed healthcare provider can authorize a return to play and it cannot be the same day as the concussion.
A concussion will resolve in 90% of athletes within 7-10 days, the treatment involves both physical and cognitive rest which means no running, jumping, weight lifting, drills, gym class, etc. It also means no video games, television, texting and other tasks that require a lot of focus and concentration. In some cases athletes are even held from school to allow the brain to rest.
Computer Based Concussion Testing
Sometimes computer based memory/cognitive testing is done. If an athlete had a preseason “baseline test” this can be very helpful in that “post injury” tests can be done to monitor or help determine recovery from a concussion. It helps to give an objective measure or brain function.
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