Through the years, researchers and medical professionals are learning more about concussions and developing specific protocol for the recovery phase. Know the signs and symptoms of a concussion and be sure to follow the direction of your physician and coach before returning to play.
It is very common for athletes in high contact sports to experience a concussion; although, a concussion can occur in any sport or event. A concussion is a brain injury which may result from a fall or from players colliding with each other, the ground, or with obstacles, such as a goalpost.
If you know an athlete that has experienced a bump or blow to the head during a game or practice, look for signs that may include: dazed or stunned appearance; confusion about assignment or position; forgetting an instruction; unsure of game, score, or opponent; moves clumsily; answers questions slowly; loss of consciousness (even briefly); behavior or personality changes; or can't recall events prior to, or after, hit or fall. Loss of consciousness is not necessary for a concussion to occur. This is a common misconception.
Athletes may report these common symptoms: headache or "pressure" in head; nausea or vomiting; balance problems or dizziness; double or blurry vision; sensitivity to light; sensitivity to noise; feeling sluggish, hazy, foggy, or groggy; concentration or memory problems; confusion; or just doesn't "feel right."
If you suspect a concussion, it is important for the athlete to seek medical attention right away and keep out of play. Concussions take time to heal. The athlete should not return to play until a health care professional says it's OK. Children who return to play too soon-while the brain is still healing- risk a greater chance of having a second concussion. Second or later concussions can be very serious, possibly causing permanent brain damage. It is also important to note, that while recovering from a concussion, brain rest is key. It is best to refrain from watching television, playing video games and even texting.
A health care professional will be able to decide how serious the concussion is. And with the Texas House Bill 2038, signed into law in 2011, athletes with a suspected concussion are required to have physician clearance to begin a five phase progression - all before the athlete is permitted to return to play.
Tell the coach about any recent concussion, in ANY sport. The coach may not know about a concussion received in another sport or activity unless you tell him or her.
There are ways to prevent a concussion. Athletes should always follow the coach's rules for safety and the rules of the sport. Practice good sportsmanship at all times. Wear the right protective equipment (such as helmets, padding, shin guards, and eye and mouth guards). Protective equipment should fit properly, be well maintained, and be worn consistently and correctly.
For more information on United Regional's Concussion Management Program, please call 940-764-5400 or Jeremy Woodward, head athletic trainer of the Sports Medicine Program, 940-781-8812.