As a concussion expert, I can provide the treatment and support you need to safely return to your sport following a concussion injury.
A concussion is a brain injury that affects they way you think, act and feel.
A concussion may occur when there is a direct blow to the head, forceful rotation of the head and neck, or both, that disrupts the way the brain normally works. A concussion can happen in many sports, but athletes in certain contact and collision sports, like football, soccer, hockey, and wrestling, have a higher risk of getting a concussion.
Any athlete with a suspected concussion injury SHOULD NOT return to play the same day. The athlete should be evaluated by a physician and may not return to their sport until cleared by their physician.
Common concussion symptoms include headache, dizziness, nausea, irritability and difficulty concentrating. It is important to note that these symptoms can be subtle and may not occur until a few hours or days after the injury. Children and young adults in school might notice that their symptoms become worse when they try to read or do homework. Exercise also tends to make symptoms worse.
Concussion evaluation and treatment
It is important to properly diagnose a concussion soon after it happens. A sports medicine physician will ask an athlete questions about his or her symptoms, and perform a careful physical examination. The examination includes testing the athlete’s memory, balance and strength. An examination of the neurological system is performed to evaluate for signs of a more severe head injury. In many concussions, the physical examination is normal, so it is very important that the athlete report all symptoms to your sports medicine physician.
- Imaging, like a computed tomography (CT) scan, is only necessary if the physician thinks it is necessary to evaluate for head injuries other than concussion.
- Multiple concussions may cause permanent symptoms.
- Appropriate treatment prevents long-term complications. Treatment of a concussion involves close medical follow-up, physical rest and cognitive rest from work or school.
Return to play
With timely diagnosis and appropriate treatment, the majority of athletes with a concussion injury will heal well. Studies of collegiate athletes report that concussion symptoms improve in 80-90% of athletes by seven days after the injury; high school athletes may need a bit more time (10 to 14 days on average) for symptom resolution. When cleared by their physician, an athlete may begin a supervised return-to-play protocol. A seven day protocol is required for high school athletes by the California Interscholastic Federation. Upon successful completion of the return-to-play protocol, the athlete will receive full clearance to return to his/her sport.
For more information on concussions in youth sports please visit:
CDC Heads Up to Youth Sports