Monday, June 13, 2011

Seeing Stars is a Serious Deal - Sports-Related Concussions

By Claudia L. Reardon, M.D.

Concussions in athletes have received increased media attention recently.  More and more evidence shows that there can be serious short- and long-term consequences of concussions if athletes return to physical activity too soon.  A concussion is a brain injury and must be treated very seriously. 

How do you know if someone has sustained a concussion?  Signs and symptoms of a concussion after an athlete hits his/her head include:
  • Headache
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Vision changes
  • Sensitivity to light and sound
  • Feeling confused or groggy
  • Concentration difficulties
  • Inability to remember events before or after the hit
  • Mood, behavior, or personality changes
Importantly, most athletes with concussions won’t experience all of these signs and symptoms.  Some of them might not appear for hours or even days.  If you, a coach, a game official, or medical provider suspect a concussion, take the following steps:
  • Remove the athlete from the game/practice immediately.
  • Seek medical attention.
  • Do not return to physical activity until cleared by a physician.  Returning to activity too soon can cause long-term physical and psychiatric problems and even death.
  • When returning to play, do so gradually, under the guidance of your health care provider.
Sports participation has many positive physical and mental health benefits for children and adults alike.  In the spirit of competition, athletes and coaches often want to do everything they can to win.  However, if a concussion is suspected, it is not worth it to risk long-term brain damage to stay in the game to help the team.   

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are reviewed before posting, and comments that include profanity or other inappropriate material will not be posted. The comment section is not intended as, and is not, a substitute for professional medical advice. All decisions about clinical care should be made in consultation with your treating physician. If you need help with a mental health issue, please visit our resource page.