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.
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:
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.