A concussion is a brain injury and all brain injuries are serious. They are caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head, or by a blow to another part of the body with the force transmitted to the head. They can range from mild to severe and can disrupt the way the brain normally works. Even though most concussions are mild, all concussions are potentially serious and may result in complications including prolonged brain damage and death if not recognized and managed properly. In other words, even a “ding” or a bump on the head can be serious. You cannot see a concussion and most sports concussions occur without loss of consciousness. Signs and symptoms of concussion may show up right after the injury or can take hours or days to fully appear. If your child reports any symptoms of concussion, or if you notice the symptoms or signs of concussion yourself, seek medical attention right away.
Symptoms may include one or more of the following:
- Headaches Amnesia
- “Pressure in head”
- “Don’t feel right”
- Nausea or vomiting Fatigue or low energy
- Neck pain Sadness
- Balance problems or dizziness Nervousness or anxiety
- Blurred, double or fuzzy vision Irritability
- Sensitivity to light or noise More emotional
- Feeling sluggish or slowed down Confusion
- Feeling foggy or groggy Concentration or memory problems
- Drowsiness (forgetting game plays)
- Change in sleep patterns Repeating the same question/comment
Signs observed by teammates, parents and coaches include:
- Appears dazed
- Vacant facial expression
- Confused about assignment
- Forgets plays
- Is unsure of game, score, or opponent
- Moves clumsily or displays incoordination
- Answers questions slowly
- Slurred speech
- Shows behavior or personality changes
- Can’t recall events prior to hit
- Can’t recall events after hit
- Seizures or convulsions
- Any change in typical behavior or personality
- Loses consciousness
What can happen if my child keeps on playing with a concussion or returns too soon?
Athletes with the signs and symptoms of concussion should be removed from play immediately. Continuing to play with the signs and symptoms of a concussion leaves the athlete especially vulnerable to greater injury. There is an increased risk of significant damage from a concussion for a period of time after that concussion occurs, particularly if the athlete suffers another concussion before completely recovering from the first one. This can lead to prolonged recovery, or even to severe brain swelling (second impact syndrome) with devastating and even fatal consequences. It is well known that adolescent or teenage athletes will often fail to report symptoms of injuries. Concussions are no different. As a result, education of administrators, coaches, parents and students is key to a student-athlete’s safety.
MHSAA Concussion Policy:
- An athlete who reports or displays any symptoms or signs of a concussion in a practice or game setting should be removed immediately from the practice or game. The athlete should not be allowed to return to the practice or game for the remainder of the day regardless of whether the athlete appears or states that he/she is normal.
- The athlete should be evaluated by a licensed, qualified medical professional working within their scope of practice as soon as can be practically arranged.
- If an athlete has sustained a concussion, the athlete should be referred to a licensed physician preferably one with experience in managing sports concussion injuries.
- The athlete who has been diagnosed with a concussion should be returned to play only after full recovery and clearance by a physician. Recovery from a concussion, regardless of loss on consciousness, usually take 7-14 days after resolution of all symptoms.
- Return to play after a concussion should be gradual and follow a progressive return to competition. An athlete should not return to a competitive game before demonstrating that he/she has no symptoms in a full supervised practice.
- Athletes should not continue to practice or return to play while still having symptoms of a concussion. Sustaining an impact to the head while recovering from a concussion may cause Second Impact Syndrome, a catastrophic neurological brain injury.
Remember, it is better to miss one game than to miss the whole season.