An athlete is their own first line of defense against sports-related concussion. As an athlete you can lead the way in creating a safe game for your teammates by learning the signs and symptoms of concussion. If you have hit your head or taken a hard hit remove yourself from the game; you may have received a concussion.
Concussion is a traumatic brain injury (TBI) and its indicators can be subtle. Symptoms may not appear until days or weeks following the injury or may even be missed, as the individual may look fine.
If you feel any of these symptoms you may have a concussion:
By removing yourself from the game if you have been hurt you are telling your team the safety of the players is just as important as winning the game. Removing yourself from the game because of concussion gives you the chance to return to play more quickly then if you stay in and receive a more severe brain injury from multiple concussions.
For Coaches, Referees and Parents
Starting September 1, 2011, Minnesota's Youth Sports Concussion Law went into effect. The goal of this new law is to improve the recognition and response of youth concussion injuries within all statewide youth athletic activities. By ensuring that athletes don't go back into games or practice too early after sustaining concussion, preventable and potentially more serious brain injuries can be avoided.
Heads Up Online Training
The Centers for Deisease Control and Prevention provides a free, online course available to coaches, parents and others helping to keep athletes safe from concussion.
If you see any of these signs or symptoms in an athlete, they may have had a concussion
Proper safety equipment should be properly worn at all times during practice and games. They should also keep watch for the signs of concussion should an accident occur on the field. Concussions are not caused solely by impact. Whiplash caused by a player falling on the field can also lead to a concussion.
Sports and recreation related injuries account for 20 percent of all brain injuries. There are an estimated 300,000 sports-related brain injuries per year, including 250,000 in football alone. However, because sports-related concussions tend to be under reported, the number may, in fact, be much higher.
Concussion is a form of Mild Traumatic Brain Injury (mTBI). The effects of brain injury can range from loss of motor skills to cognitive impairment and memory loss. Click here for more information on brain injury.
Children with a brain injury can have the same symptoms as adults, but it is often harder for them to let others know how they feel. Call your child's doctor if she or he has had a blow to the head and you notice any of these symptoms:
The seriousness of concussion tends to be down played in our society, but the results of mTBI can have severe repercussions. Second Impact Syndrome, a rapid swelling of the brain that occurs when a second concussion is received before a first concussion has healed, can prove fatal. If a concussion is suspected, the player should leave the field and receive medical diagnosis. Any child who receives a blow to the head during play should automatically be removed.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers a Heads Up: Concussion in High School Sports Packet for free for coaches and parents. (http://www.cdc.gov/ncipc/tbi/Coaches_Tool_Kit.htm)
The possibility of concussion is a very real aspect of sports, but with the proper equipment and training, coaches and parents can help athletes avoid situations that could take them out of the game permanently.
—Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Concussions: Prevention, early recognition of symptoms best counter to this type of brain injury By Dean Wennerberg, M.S., ATR, CSCS