What is a concussion?
A concussion is a type of brain injury caused by a direct blow to the head or to the body that transmits force to the head. The force causes the brain to move around rapidly inside the skull. A concussion often occurs without loss of consciousness. Even something like “getting your bell rung” or getting “dinged” is considered a concussion and should be treated seriously.
What are the symptoms of a concussion?
|Blurred vision||Inappropriate emotions||Poor concentration|
|Confusion||Irritability||Pressure in head|
|Dizziness||Loss of consciousness||Ringing in the ears|
|Drowsiness||Loss of orientation||Sadness|
|Easily distracted||Memory problems||Seeing stars|
|Eye tracking abnormality||Nausea||Sensitivity to light|
|Fatigue||Neck pain||Sensitivity to noise|
|Feel “in a fog”||Nervousness||Vacant stare/glassy eyed|
|Feel “slowed down”||Personality change||Vomiting|
|Headache||Poor balance/coordination||Sleep disturbance|
The appearance of symptoms may be delayed several hours following a concussive episode.
How are concussions different for high school athletes and how long do symptoms typically last?
Due to the developing nature of an immature brain, concussions in a high school athlete will often take longer to heal than in an adult population. Therefore, a more conservative return to play approach is needed as well as an extended amount of asymptomatic rest. The vast majority of concussion symptoms (80-90%) will resolve in a week. It is important to note that symptom resolution does not always indicate complete cognitive recovery.
What do I do if I think my student-athlete has a concussion?
The first thing is to remove the athlete from any physical activity and have them evaluated by a trained health care provider. At the school, your athletic trainer has extensive training on how to recognize, diagnose and treat concussions. If the school athletic trainer is not available then call your family doctor or seek care at an emergency department.
How do you treat a concussion?
Concussions should be treated with cognitive and physical rest as long as symptoms are present. Cognitive rest means avoiding things that stimulate the brain such as texting, video games, extra computer and iPad time. This may also require a modification of school activities depending on the length of symptoms. Physical rest includes avoiding all activity such as athletic practices and games, PE class, strength class, and performing arts classes. Academic accommodations can be made through your school counselor. Before returning to athletics the student athlete must be at full participation at school.
How do we take care of a concussion at home?
Monitor you son or daughter for progressive symptoms for the first 24-48 hours. As long as their symptoms are stable, not increasing, you do not need to wake up your athlete through the night. The athlete should follow their normal sleep schedule as much as possible. Do not give your athlete ibuprofen, Advil, or Aleve. If needed, Tylenol (Acetaminophen) may be given to your athlete 24 hours after injury to help relieve headache and neck pain.
When do I need to see a physician for a concussion?
MHSAA rules dictate all concussions, whether in practice or competition, must be cleared by a physician (MD or DO), a nurse practitioner (NP) or a physician assistant (PA) and clearance must be unconditional. MHSAA and Michigan State Law also dictate students should not return to play until completion of a physician approved return to play protocol. Your athletic trainer can help with determining when to go to see an MD, DO, NP or PA for clearance.
How can you prevent concussions?
It is not possible to prevent all concussions but there are some ways to decrease the risk of concussion.
- The use of properly fitted protective equipment
- Proper hitting technique in football
- Education about the risks and dangers of concussions
The Return To Play process at Zeeland East and West High Schools
- Any student-athlete with a suspected concussion must report to the athletic trainer for evaluation, post-injury ImPACT testing and symptom tracking.
- On school days the athlete will report to the athletic trainer for symptom tracking and evaluation.
- The athlete must be symptom free for a minimum of 72 hours.
- Once the athlete is symptom free they will take another ImPACT test, if needed, and begin the graded return to play protocol (4 days of graduated activity before returning to competition).
- When the athlete has completed the first 2 days of the return to play protocol they will need to be seen by an MD, DO, NP or PA to be cleared for full return to sports.
- The athlete will continue to complete the return to play protocol with the athletic trainer.
- When the athlete has successfully completed the above process and is participating fully in school the athlete may return to competition.
If at any point, parents have any questions, please contact the athletic trainer directly.
References & Resources:
Sports-Related Concussion in Children and Adolescents,
Pediatrics Sept. 2010 Vol. 126 Issue 3
American Medical Society for Sports Medicine Position Statement: Concussion in Sports
Centers for Disease Control