Concussions Are Not Just ‘Part of The Game’
“Getting your bell rung” is an expression used by athletes to describe what happens when a player takes a hard hit to the head and sustains a concussion. Many young athletes view a concussion as simply “part of the game.” As football season kicks off, high schools, colleges, and even the NFL, are paying closer attention to athletes when an injury occurs to the head.
A concussion is a traumatic brain injury. It can be caused by a direct blow to the head, face or neck, or a blow elsewhere on the body, which transmits force to the brain. It injures both brain cells and the blood vessels that feed them.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the leading causes for concussions seen in emergency departments include:
• Motor vehicle-related injuries
• Unintentionally being struck by or against an obstacle
• Sports-related injuries
The injury also triggers a cascade of biochemical reactions, flooding the brain with calcium and potassium ions that cause blood vessels to constrict. This hampers the metabolism of glucose, which is the fuel the brain uses for energy.
Symptoms of concussions usually fall into four categories:
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Most concussions will resolve on their own in 7 to 10 days, but others may take 30 days or more for symptoms to subside.
Having “the talk” with your child athlete
It’s important for parents to have “the concussion discussion” with their child. Talk to your athlete about the dangers of ignoring a possible concussion.
Make it clear that:
• Playing with a concussion is dangerous – it’s not a sign of courage or toughness.
• Concealing symptoms like blurred vision, feeling sluggish, concentration problems or a change in sleep pattern, increases the risk of a life-threatening brain injury.
• Physician instructions and return-to-play guidelines exist to protect – not impede – the athlete and should be followed.
Symptoms may worsen with activity. An athlete should never return to play the same day, and should have written clearance by a medical professional trained in sports concussion management before returning to his/her sport.
Summa’s sports medicine physicians offer expert sports concussion care with same-day/next-day appointments for anyone 8 years and older. To schedule an appointment, call (888) 778-6627.