Safety is the name of the game when it comes to educating, treating and managing athletes who suffer a sports concussion. Most concussion care simply requires rest and taking it easy. Should your concussion require more involved care, you can trust that our athletic trainers will help you return to activities as soon and safely as possible.
Playing on the safe side of concussion care
Concussions can be scary. Symptoms like confusion, headache, amnesia, nausea, disorientation and dizziness can surface in as little as a few hours or several days after a head injury.
It’s important to note that an adult brain heals faster than a child’s. So while older athletes may suffer a concussion and return to the playing field 2 weeks later, a child athlete with a concussion could take months to recover.
A concussion is a brain injury caused by a bump, blow or jostle to the head. Concussions can affect people differently depending on what part of the brain was injured. This can lead to a temporary loss of important functions like balance, memory, focus and vision.
And while concussions are very common with up to 3.8 million reported cases in the United States each year, they should be taken seriously. Because concussion symptoms can occur immediately, hours or even days after the initial injury, these signs may change over time.
Common signs of a concussion include:
- Dazed or stunned appearance
- Frequently asking questions
- Personality or behavioral changes
- Seeming "out of it"
- Slow response time
- Temporary loss of consciousness
- Temporary memory loss
More serious signs can appear in the first 24 to 48 hours after a head injury, so it’s important to keep a watchful eye for worsening symptoms.
Contact your doctor right away if any of these signs appear following a head injury:
- Difficulty waking from sleep
- Double or blurry vision
- Enlarged or varying pupil sizes
- Excessive drowsiness or fainting
- Inability to recognize people or places
- Numbness or weakness in the arms or legs
- Severe dizziness or feeling lightheaded
- Severe nausea or vomiting
- Slurred speech
- Unusual or bizarre behavior
- Worsening headache
Second impact syndrome
A second concussion refers to when a person sustains another concussion despite the brain having not yet recovered from a prior concussion. Because the brain is still healing, it often cannot accommodate the second impact, which causes severe brain swelling.
In extreme cases, this syndrome, called second impact syndrome, can lead to death. It can also cause prolonged symptoms and impairment later in life. Especially important for children, allowing enough time to recover following a concussion (meaning all symptoms are gone) is key to continued brain health.
Your doctor can diagnose a concussion and understand its impact on your brain with a series of tests.
- Neurological examination: Checks your vision, hearing, strength and reflexes
- Cognitive testing: Evaluates memory recall and concentration
- Imaging tests: Takes a closer look at your brain with imaging tests like an MRI or CT scan
We use tools, like ImPACT, SCAT-3 and SCAT-5 to test a person's normal level of functioning, known as the baseline. These tools measure a person's memory, reflexes and the time it takes to complete a mental task, like reciting their name or birthday. We use this data to measure the effects of a concussion and progress healing from it.
While there isn’t a clear treatment for concussions, we can take steps to manage your symptoms. It’s important to know that a concussion has to recover on its own time. But when symptoms get chronic, it’s time for a doctor to step in.
We approach concussion care in multiple steps. Little by little, we’ll increase the following exercises and therapies without putting too much strain on the brain:
- Balance training
- Cardiovascular training
- Strength training
- Sports-specific movements
Because your care is a team effort, our experts will work closely with your school's athletics department to ensure you’re continuously improving on the sidelines before getting back in the game.
Concussion training + education
Our doors are open to youth sports organizations, high school departments, coaches and parents who want to take an active role in concussion education.
You can count on our athletic trainers to help create awareness on concussion signs, symptoms and management so that your team can learn and play with a safety-first mentality.