Learn About Concussions

WHAT IS A CONCUSSION?

  • A concussion is a brain injury caused by a blow to the head; or a blow to the body that causes a jolt to the head.
  • Learn what a concussion is, the signs and symptoms, and what you should do if a player has suffered a concussion.

Signs of a concussion

Dazed or stunned appearance

Confusion about assignment to position in game

Forgetting instructions

Unsure of game, score or opponent

Answers questions slowly

Clumsy movement

Loss of consciousness (even briefly)

Shows behavioral or personality changes

Can’t recall events prior to head impact

Can’t recall events after the head impact

Symptoms of a concussion

Headache or “pressure” in head

Dizziness

Nausea or vomiting

Feeling “dazed” or “stunned”

Balance problems

Double or blurry vision

Feeling sluggish, hazy, foggy or groggy

Concentration or memory problems

Confusion

Trouble falling or staying asleep

Excessive sleeping

Doesn’t “feel right”

WHAT TO DO IF YOU SUSPECT A CONCUSSION

  • SEEK MEDICAL ATTENTION

    A doctor will be able to confirm the diagnosis of concussion and advise the best treatment. This is essential for maximizing recovery.

  • KEEP THEM SAFE

    Remove the athlete from the game or practice. Concussions may take a significant amount of time to fully heal, and an athlete should not return to sports until a doctor has evaluated him and determined that he is fully recovered and ready to begin a gradual return to play protocol. Any athlete with a suspected or known concussion should never return to play the same day as the injury.

  • INFORM THE COACHES

    Tell coaches about any recent concussions. Because concussion problems can increase the more concussions a child has, it is important that coaches and medical professionals have the most accurate information regarding an athlete’s concussion history.

WHAT IS THE TREATMENT AND RECOVERY FOR CONCUSSIONS?

  • DIAGNOSE

    A physician will diagnose a concussion by taking a history and performing a physical, neurological & cognitive exam including tasks that test memory, balance and attention.

  • TYPICAL TREATMENT

    For a typical concussion, the treatment is a period of rest from physical activities and from stressful cognitive activities, such as schoolwork, until symptoms begin to improve. Your physician will provide guidance on when it is safe to resume activity (both physical & cognitive).

  • NEVER THE SAME

    No two concussions are the same and the recovery process is unique to each individual. Unfortunately, it is not possible to predict how long symptoms will last.

  • CLASSIFICATIONS

    Concussions are no longer classified as “mild”, “moderate” or “severe” at time of injury. Concussion severity is determined by how long symptoms persist, so it is not possible to know how severe the concussion was until the athlete is fully recovered.

  • MEDICATIONS

    Over-the-counter pain medications are not recommended for treating concussion symptoms.

  • DURATION

    Concussions resolve within 2 weeks for 80-90% of high school aged athletes. Concussions resolve within 2-4 weeks for 80-90% of athletes younger than high school age.

  • RETURN TO ACTIVITY

    Returning to sports and other physical activities after a concussion should be done gradually once symptoms have resolved and the athlete has been cleared by his physician.*

    *Most states require by law written clearance from a physician before a student athlete can return to practice or competition.

HOW TO REDUCE THE RISK OF CONCUSSION FOR YOUR ATHLETE

  • HEAD STABILIZATION

    Through proper exercise and strength training to strengthen the neck and upper back muscles, an athlete is able to increase the stabilization of the head during collisions and upon impact with other players or the field.

  • UTILIZE PROPER TACKLING TECHNIQUE

    Elimination of head first contact in all blocking and tackling is of paramount importance. By simply executing better technique which keeps the head out of the way in most all contact situations, the likelihood of injury dramatically decreases.

  • PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT

    Ensure that protective equipment required by the sport fits properly, is in good condition, and is worn consistently and correctly. Coaches should teach athletes proper and safe techniques for blocking and tackling along with appropriate strength and conditioning routines.

  • FOLLOW THE RULES

    Encourage coaches and athletes to follow the rules of the sport. 33% of all concussions occur in the setting of an illegal hit or other rule violation.

  • RECOGNIZE SYMPTOMS

    Coaches, parents and athletes all should learn to recognize signs and symptoms of concussions. Prompt recognition, removal from play, and proper treatment can prevent a typical concussion from becoming one with a protracted recovery or more debilitating symptoms.

  • COMMUNICATION

    Coaches should always encourage players to speak up if they are injured and they should remove athletes with suspected injuries from play. Studies show that about 42% of athletes intentionally do not report their concussion symptoms and 62% say they know someone who has failed to report symptoms.

  • FIRST AID

    Coaches, athletes, and parents should take a course in first aid, CPR, and injury prevention.

WARNING: Football is a dangerous, collision sport where injuries are common. There is no such thing as a concussion proof football helmet and football helmets can not completely prevent concussions. However, the right helmets, when properly fit, can help reduce the risk of more serious injuries. Football helmets are not designed as concussion prevention, but rather as protection against skull fractures, contusions, and lacerations.