On the day of the injury, the athlete should not be allowed to return to play in the game or practice if a concussion is suspected. The concussed athlete should not be left alone and should be monitored regularly for any signs of deterioration in their condition or signs of an emergency.
Parents of student-athletes should follow these tips:
When is a concussion an emergency?
“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.” But that attitude needs to change, according to Robert S. Crawford, M.D., Summa Health Sports Medicine and team physician for the Akron Rubber Ducks, Kent State University and Wadsworth High School.
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.
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.
Most concussions will resolve on their own in seven to 10 days, but others may take 30 days or more for symptoms to subside. "Each individual is different,” Dr. Crawford says. He recommends complete physical and mental rest to reduce the metabolic demands placed on the brain while it is healing.
“If you could put injured athletes in a semi-darkened room and have them sit there for three days and do absolutely nothing – no TV, texting, video games, attending school or doing homework – that would be the best early treatment for concussion,” Dr. Crawford says.
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:
In second injury syndrome, because of the reduced blood flow caused by the first concussion, a seemingly minor second impact can be catastrophic, causing blood flow regulation in the brain to go haywire that can result in serious brain damage or even death.
For more information on concussion or to schedule an appointment with a Summa Health Sports Medicine professional for post-concussion treatment, please call 330.835.5533.