Concussions in Sports

Concussion are a type of traumatic brain injury that changes how the brain normally functions. Concussions may occur from a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or neck. Most concussions occur without a loss of consciousness. Concussions are considered a common sports injury.

It’s the Law

Michigan was the 39th U.S. state to enact a law that regulates sports concussions and return to athletic activity. The law went into full effect on June 30th, 2013. The sports concussion legislation requires all coaches, employees, volunteers, and other adults involved with a youth athletic activity to complete a concussion awareness on-line training program. The organizing entity must provide educational materials on the signs/symptoms and consequences of concussions to each youth athlete and their parents/guardians and obtain a signed statement acknowledging receipt of the information for the organizing entity to keep on record. The law also requires immediate removal of an athlete from physical participation in an athletic activity who is suspected of sustaining a concussion. The student athlete must then receive written clearance from an appropriate health professional before he or she can return to physical activity or sport.

What are signs and symptoms of a concussion?

The most common symptoms that athletes feel immediately after sustaining a concussion are headache (85%) and dizziness (70%-80%). However, the Center for Disease Control estimates approximately 47% of athletes don’t feel any symptoms immediately following the injury; instead they will begin to feel symptoms minutes or hours after the injury. 

Most common symptoms reported by Athletes:

  • Headache or “pressure” in head
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Balance problems or dizziness
  • Double or blurry vision
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Sensitive to noise
  • Feeling sluggish, hazy, foggy, or groggy
  • Concentration or memory problems
  • Confusion
  • Just not “feeling right” or “feeling down”

Most common signs observed by parents/guardians:

  • Appears dazed or stunned
  • Is confused about assignment or position
  • Forgets an instruction
  • Is unsure of game, score, or opponent
  • Moves clumsily
  • Answers questions slowly
  • Loses consciousness (even briefly)
  • Shows mood, behavior, or personality changes

Red Flags

Seek immediate medical attention if you experience any of the following symptoms:

  • Look drowsy or cannot be woken up
  • Unusual behavior change
  • Headaches that severely worsen
  • Increased irritability
  • Seizures
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Slurred speech
  • Weakness or numbness
  • Increasing confusion
  • Continued vomiting
  • Difficulty recognizing people or places

Treatment for concussions

Get lots of rest; including avoiding “screen time” on televisions, iPads, computers, phones, and video games.

Avoid physical activity (gym class, sports practices, weight-training, running, exercising, heavy lifting, etc.) until evaluated by a medical professional.

Limit activities that require a lot of thinking or concentration (homework, job-related activity). 
Drink lots of fluids and eat carbohydrates or protein to main appropriate blood sugar levels. 

During recovery, it is normal to feel frustrated and sad when you do not feel right and you can’t be as active as usual. 
Repeated evaluation of your symptoms is recommended to help guide recovery. 

Inform the teacher(s), school nurse, school psychologist or counselor, and administrator(s) about your (or your child’s) injury and symptoms.

School personnel should be instructed to watch for: 

  • Increased problems paying attention or concentrating 
  • Increased problems remembering or learning new information 
  • Longer time needed to complete tasks or assignments 
  • Greater irritability, less able to cope with stress 
  • Symptoms worsen (e.g., headache, tiredness) when doing schoolwork 

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