Concussion Management

Keeping athletes safe, healthy and doing what they love.

Oh come on, they're just a part of sports--so just dust yourself off and go back in, right? Wrong. Concussions are brain injuries - pure and simple. They account for 3-5% of injuries in all sports combined, from football to gymnastics.

  • Each year, U.S. emergency departments (EDs) treat an estimated 173,285 sports- and recreation-related TBIs, including concussions, among children and adolescents, from birth to 19 years. 1
  • During the last decade, ED visits for sports- and recreation-related TBIs, including concussions, among children and adolescents increased by 60%. 1
  • Overall, the activities associated with the greatest number of TBI-related ED visits included bicycling, football, playground activities, basketball, and soccer. 1
  • National surveillance in 9 high school sports: 2
  • TBI represents almost 9% of all injuries reported in the 9 sports
  • Numbers and rates are highest in football (55,007; 0.47 per 1000 athlete exposures) and girl’s soccer (29,167; 0.36 per 1000 athlete exposures)
  • A national survey of all sports- and recreation-related injuries among all ages demonstrates that 31% occurred in a sports facility and 20% in a school facility. 3

Causes and Risk Groups 1

  • Children from birth to 9 years commonly sustained injuries during playground activities or while bicycling.
  • 71.0% of all sports- and recreation-related TBI emergency department visits were among males.
  • 70.5% of sports- and recreation-related TBI emergency department visits were among persons aged 10-19 years.
  • For males aged 10-19 years, sports- and recreation-related TBIs occurred most often while playing football or bicycling.
  • Females aged 10-19 years sustained sports- and recreation-related TBIs most often while playing soccer or basketball or while bicycling.

Concussion is a form of mild traumatic brain injury caused by an impact directly to the head or to a part of the body that results in a force transmitted to the head.

This impact causes a temporary neurologic impairment that can result symptoms which can include:

  • headaches
  • dizziness
  • nausea
  • vision or hearing sensitivity
  • fatigue or sleeplessness
  • irritability
  • depression
  • unusual behaviors

Athletes who have suffered a concussion may describe feeling "in a fog" or like their "head is in the clouds." It is not uncommon for a concussed athlete to have amnesia, or a loss of memory of events leading up to the concussion or following the concussion.

With adequate physical and mental rest, as well as sleep, the brain injury eventually heals and the symptoms resolve. However, studies show that with inadequate treatment of the concussion, or if the athlete returns to his or her sport too quickly, there may be long-term consequences.

While rare, there are incidences of athlete deaths in the United States every year because they returned to their sport without adequate treatment, then suffer a second impact. Called "second impact syndrome", this subsequent impact causes diffuse brain injury, swelling, bleeding and, in the majority of cases, death.

Recent studies, many of which come from the study of NFL athletes, have also shown much more common long term effects of inadequately treated concussions and multiple, repeated head injuries. Those who have sustained concussions-especially multiple concussions with inadequate treatment-have an increased risk of depression, substance abuse, sleep disorders, and chronic headaches. Newer data also points to the possibility that concussions could be linked to early onset dementia.

Thus, the appropriate care of concussions is important to keep athletes safe and successful not only in sports, but also in life.

When concussion is suspected, it is important that athletes be evaluated as soon as possible to accurately diagnose the injury, its severity and the type of treatment most appropriate.

Please Note: An athlete who is believed to have a concussion should not return to games, practices or other physical activity until he or she has seen a physician or an athletic trainer certified in concussion care and management. If you suspect a concussion, please contact your school's Certified Athletic Trainer.

With adequate physical and mental rest, most brain injuries eventually heal and the symptoms resolve. Studies have shown that if a concussion is allowed to adequately heal, there are no long-term after effects from having suffered a concussion.

AMP proudly uses ImPACT software for concussion management. ImPACT Concussion Management Software is a sophisticated research-based software tool developed to help sports-medicine clinicians evaluate recovery following concussion. ImPACT evaluates and documents multiple aspects of neurocognitive functioning including memory, brain processing speed, reaction time, post-concussive symptoms, and an injury documentation system.

References:

  1. Gilchrist J, Thomas KE, Xu L, McGuire LC, Coronado VG. Nonfatal sports and recreation related traumatic brain injuries among children and adolescents treated in emergency departments in the United States, 2001-2009. MMWR 2011: 60(39);1337-1342.
  2. Gessel LM, Fields SK, Collins CL, Dick RW, Comstock RD. Concussions Among United States High School and Collegiate Athletes. J Athl Train. 2007; 42(4): 495–503.
  3. Conn JM, Annest JL, Gilchrist J. Sports and recreation related injury episodes in the US population, 1997–99. Inj Prev. 2003; 9:117-123.