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Concussion Care

What to do if a Concussion is Suspected

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:

  • See the athletic trainer as soon as possible
  • Consult a healthcare professional
  • Rest
  • No sleeping medications should be administered. Instead, use acetaminophen or codeine for the headache. DO NOT administer aspirin or any anti-inflammatory medications.
  • The student-athlete should NOT drive until medically cleared.
  • No physical education classes/exercise/sports until medically cleared.
  • No school, homework, computer use, texting, video games, television or loud music.

Proper concussion care tips:

  • Rest – physical and cognitive – is essential in the early recovery stages.
  • Clearance to return to sports should be withheld until all symptoms have cleared, particularly headaches.
  • Teachers, guidance counselors, and school administrators can play a role in identifying if a concussed student is showing any complications or prolonged recovery. Include them in the care plan!
  • Concussed students go through various phases of recovery, and rates of recovery can differ among each individual.
  • Return-to-Learn Concept. Gradually increase cognitive function/challenges without causing post-concussive symptoms to worsen.

When is a concussion an emergency?

Concussions – What Parents Should Know

“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.

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 is not a sign of courage or toughness
  • Concealing symptoms 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
  • It’s important to avoid sustaining a second concussion before the first injury has healed
  • Cases of second injury syndrome are rare but can occur in children and young adults after even minor impacts.

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.


Options to Request an Appointment

If your situation is an emergency, call 911.