Concussion is Brain Injury
A concussion is a mild, traumatic brain injury usually occurring after a blow to the head. Although the majority of athletes who experience a concussion are likely to recover, an unknown number may experience chronic cognitive and neurobehavioral difficulties related to recurrent injury.
This constellation of symptoms is referred to as post-concussion syndrome, which can be disabling and, in some cases, permanent for an athlete.
In addition to post-concussion syndrome, suffering a second blow to the head while recovering from an initial concussion can have catastrophic consequences as in the case of second impact syndrome. Second impact syndrome is a life-threatening condition in which a second concussion occurs before a first concussion has properly healed, causing rapid and severe brain swelling. Second impact syndrome can result from even a very mild concussion that occurs days or weeks after the initial concussion.
Signs and symptoms of a concussion can show up right after the injury or may not appear or be noticed until days or weeks after the injury. If your child reports any symptoms of concussion, or if you notice the symptoms yourself, seek medical attention right away. Concussion severity varies widely, and the number of signs and symptoms vary also. Serious injuries may show few symptoms. In fact, less than 10 percent of concussed athletes lose conciousness.
Athletes that are not fully recovered from an initial concussion are significantly vulnerable for recurrent, cumulative, and even catastrophic consequences if another concussive injury occurs. Such difficulties are prevented if the athlete is allowed time to recover from concussion and return-to-play decisions are carefully made. No athlete should return to a sport or other at-risk participation when symptoms of concussion are present and recovery is ongoing. In summary, the best way to prevent difficulties with concussion is to manage the injury properly when it does occur.
Concussion Management Steps
- Anytime during a practice or game that an athlete experiences any sign(s) or symptom(s) of a concussion the athlete should discontinue play for that day.
- Seek medical attention to evaluate injury.
- Monitor symptoms; if symptoms worsen, go immediately to the nearest emergency room.
- If applicable, take a follow-up ImPACT cognitive test within 2-3 days following the injury.
- Return to physical activity only after being symptom-free and only after being cleared by a medical professional experienced in treating concussions.
- When cleared by a medical professional with experience in treating concussions, an athlete may begin a supervised progressive return to physical activity. The progression should be from low intensity, non-contact activities to more intense game simulation activities and spread over several days.
- Stop activity if any symptoms return and seek medical attention.
At the forefront of proper concussion management is the implementation of baseline and/or post-injury neurocognitive testing. Such evaluation can help to objectively evaluate the post-injury condition and track recovery for safe return to play, thus preventing the cumulative effects of concussion.
ImPACT (Immediate Post Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing) is a user-friendly, computer-based testing program specifically designed for the management of sports-related concussions. ImPACT is currently the most widely utilized computer program and has been implemented effectively across high school, collegiate, and professional levels of sports. ImPACT is suitable for athletes ages 10 and older. It is funded by The Valley Hospital Foundation.
It is a 20-minute battery of neurocognitive evaluations, including measures of verbal and visual memory, attention span, brain processing speed, and reaction time. Ideally, athletes first complete a baseline ImPACT test prior to playing sports. If an athlete subsequently experiences a concussion, he or she is re-tested and the baseline data is compared to the post-concussion data to monitor recovery and determine when it is safe for the player to return to active sports.
Sports Institute Concussion Mangement Program
The Sports Institute is recognized as a trusted resource in the prevention and treatment of sports related injuries with a staff of licensed athletic trainers and a network of orthopedic and sports medicine specialty physicians. The Sports Institute is now offering the ImPACT program for young athletes diagnosed with a concussion.
We Can Provide:
- Baseline ImPACT testing on scheduled dates prior to each season
- Post-injury ImPACT testing by appointment
- Neurocognitive assessment reports, comparison to norms, and follow-up testing
- Balance, coordination, and reaction-time assessment
- Symptom severity assessment
- Medical referral information
- Educational resources
- Return-to-play activity progression plan
Printed test results will be compared to baseline data and/or normative data providing valuable information for your physician to make critical return-to-play decisions.
For more information or to schedule an ImPACT test, contact the Sports Institute at 201-447-8133 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.