Fall sports season is here and with it a reminder to focus on safety and recognizing the symptoms of concussion.
Athletes can receive a concussion during any sport where there is a risk of injury to the head. Football gets a lot of attention, but concussions can also occur in baseball, soccer, basketball and more. A concussion occurs when normal brain activity is altered following a direct impact to the head or an impact to the body that transmits forces to the head.
“There are many microscopic and biochemical changes that take place that change how the brain functions, leading to a variety of symptoms including headache, mood changes and difficulty focusing, among many others,” said Douglas Aukerman, MD, a sports medicine physician at The SAM.
Symptoms of a concussion are more than just a headache or losing consciousness. If your child takes a hit and exhibits any of the following symptoms, it may be a concussion:
- Headache or sensitivity to light or noise
- Confusion or slurred speech
- Dizziness or unsteady walking
- Nausea or vomiting
- Fatigue or dazed appearance
- Loss of consciousness
If you suspect your child has a concussion they should be evaluated by a medical professional within 24 hours to confirm the diagnosis. The team physician or your child’s physician are both trained to evaluate a concussion. You may need to go to the Emergency Department if your child lost consciousness for more than one minute, or if there is an additional injury.
Symptoms may develop hours or days after the injury, so keep a close watch on your child after a hard hit. Dr. Aukerman reports that concussion symptoms are usually gone after two weeks, but it may take up to three weeks before your child can participate in sports again.
“Typically, concussions will resolve relatively quickly on their own, but providers who specialize in treating concussions can offer several tips on speeding recovery, mostly focusing on appropriate physical and mental rest,” said Dr. Aukerman. “The provider can also rule out other, more serious injuries.”
Although there is a chance of injury with any sport, playing safe and using equipment that is appropriate for the sport can help reduce the risks.
“Don’t let worry about a concussion keep you away from sports,” said Dr. Aukerman. “Being active improves mood and is essential to maintaining a healthy body.”
Samaritan Athletic Medicine’s concussion hotline is available 24/7 to provide you with more information and help you quickly access our concussion experts, including the area’s only credentialed Concussion Impact Consultant. For more information, call the hotline at 1-800-299-2929.