a close up of a person wearing a helmet

Concussion in Sports

January 21, 2020

Concussions are common among athletes who participate in contact sports, but can be sustained in any population with a traumatic blow to the head and neck region. These injuries occur when an outside force causes the brain to move within the skull. This force is not always a direct blow to the head, but can be caused by impact on the body causing forceful movement of the head and neck.

Diagnosing a concussion can be difficult, as most cases occur without a loss of consciousness and symptoms may not even be present at the time of injury. Symptoms to look for may include headache, confusion, altered vision, dizziness, nausea, imbalance, sensitivity to light and sound, irritability or feeling emotional, size differences in pupils, slow reaction time, or difficulty concentrating. Severe cases may present with instant vomiting with impact, enlarged or difference in size of pupils, or loss of consciousness. These cases should be immediately referred for emergency care and/or brain imaging.

It is important to note that any of these symptoms may not be present until hours after the initial trauma or injury and that each individual case will present differently based on the patient. Athletes seeking full recovery from a head injury must seek the necessary treatment and care to prevent further damage that could keep them out of the game even longer.Treatment generally consists of ample amounts of rest both physically and mentally. A return to play protocol is implemented for athletes that should be followed by any treating health care provider. Returning athletes to sport too soon could be detrimental, as they may suffer even more severe symptoms and cause further damage to the brain. Thus, it is important to explain to patients and those involved that there is no specific timeline for healing or return to play, as each person is affected differently. If symptoms are persistent after 2-3 weeks or in severe cases, patients should be referred to a physician that specializes in concussion treatment and management for further evaluation and advanced treatment.


About the author:

Kayla Hanson, MS, ATC
Kayla Hanson, MS, ATC