School is back in session and fall is in the air. One of the things we love about this time of the year is the return of some of our favorite sports! Football, hockey, basketball… the fall is packed with athletic action. While we love the cooler evenings and the Friday night-lights, parents and coaches need to be aware of the risks, like concussions, that come with contact sports.
Pain, sprains, bumps, and bruises are typically easy injuries to recognize. Concussions aren’t always so easy to identify. Traumatic brain injuries are sometimes referred to as “invisible injuries.” On the surface you look the same but the outward appearance does not reflect the true impact of the injury the body has sustained.
A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury. Concussions are typically caused by a bump, blow, or hit to the head or body. The sudden movement causes the head and brain to quickly move back and forth. This motion forces the brain to bounce or twist in the skull and can even cause the soft tissue of the brain to crash into the skull itself. A blow to the head, an elbow to the face, the impact of the head or body on a hard court or ice… the adrenaline fueled action of sports can lead to accidents.
Your first defense should always be appropriate safety equipment. Properly fitted helmets are a must during every single game and every single practice. While helmets are great protection, it is important to remember that no helmet is “concussion-proof.” Parents and coaches need to be able to recognize the signs of a concussion. Here is a list of signs to look for right after a blow or hit has taken place:
Signs to Watch For
- Loses consciousness, even briefly
- Student appears dazed or stunned
- Forgets instructions, is unsure of the status of the game like the score.
- Movements become slow or clumsy
- Answers questions slowly
- Noticeable changes in mood, behavior, or personality
- Unable to recall events prior to or after the injury
All parents, coaches, and even teammates should remember that while these are some of the most typically signs to watch for, by no means are they the only signs. Concussions can affect each child or teen differently. Any type of blow to the head or neck should be treated by a medical professional right away.
Symptoms of a concussion can present themselves right away, like headache, blurry vision, and nausea. Other symptoms can progress over time like problems sleeping, a headache that won’t go away, and a lack of interest in usual activities.
Symptoms of Concussions
- Headache or the feeling of “pressure” in the head
- Nausea or vomiting
- Problems with balance or dizziness
- Blurry vision
- Sensitivity to light or noise
- Confusion and memory problems
- Slurred speech, weakness, or numbness
While the signs and symptoms are indicators that something serious may be wrong, never try to diagnose or judge the severity of the injury on your own. Concussions need to be diagnosed and treated by a medical professional right away. Right away means RIGHT NOW! Children and teens can be very competitive. They want to get back in the game, have fun, and contribute to the team. Some students worry that if they report a possible concussion they will lose their position on the team or look weak in front of teammates. It is always better to miss one or two games rather than the entire season.
The brain is an amazing but sensitive organ and it needs time to heal. After a concussion it is much more susceptible to further damage. Children and teens who continue to play after an injury, or who return to play too soon, have an increased risk of suffering another concussion. Repeated concussions can lead to serious and long-term complications.
The ER on Soncy has a CT Scanner, X-ray, and ultrasound equipment, everything needed to quickly and accurately diagnose and treat concussions and sports related injuries. Our staff doesn’t just treat and release, we take the time to follow up with patients and make sure you and your family gets continued support and care.
Stay safe and play ball!