By: Olumide Sobowale, MD
Monday, September 16 2013
So what exactly is a concussion?
A concussion is a brain injury caused by a blow or jolt to the head or by a blow to the body that causes the head and brain to move quickly back and forth. To recognize a concussion, you should watch for or ask others if a forceful bump, blow, or jolt to the head or body occurred and if the person exhibits any signs or symptoms of a concussion.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms reported by the patient may include headache or pressure in the head, nausea, dizziness, double or blurry vision, sensitivity to light or noise, feeling sluggish or groggy, or “not feeling right.” Others might observe that the sufferer appears dazed, confused, and unsure. He or she might answer questions slowly or move clumsily. There might be changes in behavior or personality, loss of consciousness (even for a few seconds), and an inability to recall events prior to or after the hit or fall.
When should emergency treatment be sought?
Emergency treatment should be sought immediately if the patient complains of a worsening headache, has seizures, or is very drowsy and can’t be awakened. Vomiting, slurred speech, impaired recognition, confusion or irritability, neck pain, weakness or numbness in the arms or legs, and any loss of consciousness greater than 30 seconds are also signs that it is time to seek emergency treatment.
What if a concussion happens on the field?
First, the athlete should not return to play. Any player with signs and symptoms of a concussion should be removed from play and should not return to practice or games until evaluated by an appropriate healthcare provider.
The player should then be asked questions to determine orientation, concentration, and memory before and after the event. (Ex. Who is the opposing team? Who scored last? Do you remember the hit?) Questions should also be asked concerning general memory and cognitive processing. (Ex. What are the days of the week or months of the year backward? Can you remember a list of three words I told you five minutes ago?) An inability to answer questions correctly should be considered abnormal.
Symptoms usually worsen or re-emerge with exertion, indicating incomplete recovery. If the athlete is symptom free after an injury, provoking with exertion such as 5 sit-ups or 5 knee bends, is recommended to see if symptoms occur.
Follow-up evaluation every 5 minutes is important as signs and symptoms of a concussion may evolve.
Anyone with signs and symptoms of a concussion should be evaluated by a healthcare provider