INFORMATION ABOUT CONCUSSIONS FROM THE MAYO CLINIC, ROCHESTER, MINNESOTA and from ImPACT
A concussion is a type of brain injury. It's the most minor form. Technically, a concussion is a short loss of normal brain function in response to a head injury, but the term is used to describe any minor injury to the head or brain. Concussions are a common type of sports injury.
Concussions range in significance from minor to major, but they all share one common factor — they temporarily interfere with the way your brain works. They can affect memory, judgment, reflexes, speech, balance and coordination.
Usually caused by a blow to the head, concussions don't always involve a loss of consciousness. In fact, most people who have concussions never black out. Some people have had concussions and not even realized it.
Concussions are common, particularly if you play a contact sport such as hockey. But every concussion, no matter how mild, injures your brain. This injury needs time and rest to heal properly. Luckily, most concussions are mild and people usually recover fully.
A concussion can be diagnosed and assigned a level of severity based largely on symptoms. Treatment involves monitoring and rest. Symptoms usually go away entirely within three weeks, though they may persist, or complications may occur.
It is imperative that athletes wear properly-fitting and properly-maintained protective gear when engaging in sports, particularly contact sports. Such equipment includes, but is not limited to, helmets with face masks, padding, shin guards and mouth guards. Athletes should adhere to the coach’s rules for safety as well as the rules of the game being played.
Signs and Symptoms:
The signs and symptoms of a concussion can be subtle and may not be immediately apparent. Symptoms can last for days, weeks or even longer.
The two most common concussion symptoms are confusion and amnesia. The amnesia, which may or may not be preceded by a loss of consciousness, almost always involves the loss of memory of the impact that caused the concussion.
Signs of a potential concussion on the ice or on the field after head contact may include:
- appearing to be dazed or stunned
- confusion about assignment
- forgets plays
- is unsure of game, score, or opponent
- moves clumsily
- answers questions slowly
- loses consciousness (even temporarily)
- shows behavior or personality change
- forgets events prior to hit (retrograde amnesia)
- forgets events after hit (anterograde amnesia)
General signs and symptoms of a concussion may include:
- "seeing stars" and feeling dazed, dizzy, or lightheaded
- ringing in the ears
- nausea or vomiting
- slurred speech or saying things that don't make sense
Some symptoms of concussions are not apparent until hours or days later. These include:
- memory loss, such as trouble remembering things that happened right before and after the injury
- difficulty concentrating, thinking, or making decisions
- difficulty with coordination or balance
- blurred vision and sensitivity to light and noise
- feeling overly tired
- sleep disturbances
- feeling anxious or irritable for no apparent reason
It is advised to see a doctor if you have any of the symptoms outlined above.
If you play sports, never return to a sports practice or game on the day you are injured. Wait for all symptoms to disappear before you start playing sports again — and that doesn't just mean physical symptoms like headaches or tiredness. In many teens, the physical symptoms get better before the cognitive ones (such as difficulty thinking or making decisions). So it's important to feel 100% before becoming active again.
If You Get a Concussion:
Here's what to do if you have a concussion:
- If you get a concussion while playing sports, stop playing. Don't return to play even if you feel fine.
- If you've had a complex concussion, contact your doctor or go to the emergency room. After a complex concussion, you must see a concussion or brain injury specialist to help decide whether you need additional tests and when you can return to activity. Ask your doctor who you should see for this.
For the first few days, rest both your body and mind: Activities that require concentration and attention (like studying, test taking, or even playing videogames) may make the symptoms worse and delay recovery.
- After the symptoms of concussion have gone away, gradually go back to being more active. Slowly advance from one step to the next, day by day, ONLY if you stay symptom free. The steps for return to play are:
- No activities until symptoms disappear.
- Once symptoms disappear, you can start light aerobic exercise such as walking or stationary cycling — no resistance training.
- If there's still no sign of symptoms, you can begin sport-specific exercise (such as skating in hockey, running in soccer).
- If you're still symptom free, you can start non-contact training drills (i.e., drills in which there's no chance you will fall, flip, or collide with another player).
- If steps 1-4 go well, see your doctor to get approval to go back to full activity or training.
Inform your coaches of the results of diagnosis and treatment for all injuries.
It is recommended that as a precaution for athletes who compete in all sports, but particularly contact sports, a BASELINE CONCUSSION TEST be done. The results of this test can assist medical professionals in diagnosing and treating an athlete who has suffered a head injury to determine whether or not a concussion has occurred.
ImPact is the name of an organization that deals with baseline testing for concussions.
The Henry Ford Health System in Detroit, Michigan offers the opportunity to take the ImPact test on line for a fee of $10.00.
For information on ImPact you can go to their website at www.impacttest.com
To learn how to take the ImPact test on line go to www.henryfordhealth.org. Once there go to the top right of the page and type in IMPACT TEST; then click SEARCH. When the next page appears select the second option entitled 'Baseline Testing For Concussion, Henry Ford Hospital, Detroit, Michigan'.
Read the information entitled 'getting started' and 'final tips'. Proceed to the Disclaimer page and then you are ready to enroll.
Baseline testing for concussions may also be administered in a physician’s office. Consult with your physician for the name and location of a doctor or testing center near you.