It's Fall sports season and Winter sports are not far behind. Playing sports brings certain personal injury risks. One common injury is a concussion. Because symptoms may be hidden, it is important to know what to look for, and also what steps to take if someone is exhibiting them.
Awareness is the important thing. First, note that signs and symptoms of concussion can show up right after the injury or may not appear or be noticed until days or weeks after the injury.
Symptoms may include:
- 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
- Just not “feeling right” or is “feeling down”
It's important to watch for these and then to take action because as the Sports Concussion Institute, warns, “delicate neural pathways in the brain can become damaged, causing neurological disturbances. ”
If you suspect there is a concussion involved with a player in your family, StopSportsInjuries.org has the following advice:
When concussion is suspected, a trained coach, certified athletic trainer, or the team physician should immediately perform an initial “sideline” evaluation, including:
- Symptoms list review
- Focused neurological exam
- Focused orientation exam that tests short-term memory recall such as the event, play, opponent, score or last meal
- Focused orientation exam that tests long term recall such as name, birth date, place of birth
- Assessment of athlete's ability to stay attentive to a complex task such as reciting months backwards”
Then, care must be exercised as the sports player returns to the field. The Columbian had some good advice in a recent article:
The athlete's primary care provider, athletic trainer and physical therapist will work together to develop an individualized program aimed at promoting safe return to play. This team approach helps to maximize your athlete's potential and decrease the likelihood of complications. Following the protocol as prescribed will help the athlete get back in the game safely, sooner rather than later.”
How can you learn more and be prepared? One good resource is the CDC — Centers for Disease Control — free online course on that “teaches coaches, officials, parents and students the importance of proper concussion recognition and management in high school sports.” Another report prepared by the CDC, serves as a parent and student athlete information sheet on concussions (PDF).
We wish all Vancouver and Portland Fall and Winter athletes safe and successful seasons.