A concussion occurs when a violent blow to the head causes the brain to slam against the skull beyond the ability of the cerebrospinal fluid to cushion the impact. Studies shown that prior concussions may lower the threshold for subsequent concussion injury and increase severity of symptoms.
• Appears dazed, stunned or has vacant stare
• Slurred / incoherent speech
• Emotions out of proportion to circumstances
• Confused about assignment
• Forgets plays
• Unsure of game, score, opponent
• Moves clumsily
• Answers questions slowly
• Loses consciousness (even briefly)
• Shows behavior and personality changes
• Displays anterograde amnesia (forgets events after hit / fall)
• Displays retrograde amnesia (forgets events prior to hit / fall)
• Headache or “pressure” in head
• Balance problems / dizziness
• Double / fuzzy vision
• Sensitivity to light / noise
• Feeling sluggish / slowed down
• Feeling foggy / groggy
• Change in sleep pattern
• Concentration / memory problems
• Does not “feel right”
Most people recover completely from a concussion in several days or weeks. However, recovery can sometimes take longer. Recovery may be slower in those who have already had one or more concussions. Also, recovery is sometimes complicated by non-injury factors, such as pain or psychological distress.
Anyone who suffers a head injury should be monitored closely. It can take a few hours or even days for symptoms of brain injury to appear. Treatment begins with a thorough evaluation, which guides the development of a comprehensive treatment plan including recommendations about when it is appropriate to return to work, driving, school, sports, and other activities. Early diagnosis and treatment of such symptoms as headache, dizziness, balance problems, trouble sleeping, and blurred vision can reduce distress and also reduce the risk of re-injury. Through education and therapy, patients and their families are helped to better understand and manage the symptoms of concussion.
Student athletes have access to ImPACT testing, courtesy of the Houston Methodist Concussion Center, either onsite at school or at the Concussion Center. ImPACT (Immediate Post Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing) is the first and most scientifically validated computerized concussion evaluation system, and is the gold standard of testing across the MLS, NFL, NHL and other professional and collegiate sports teams. Read more
On-field, follow-up evaluation (e.g., every five minutes) is important, as signs and symptoms of concussion may evolve over time. It is not recommended the athlete return to practice or game in the same day a concussion is suspected.
Any athlete who exhibits signs and symptoms of concussion should be removed from play and should not participate in games or practices until he/she has been evaluated and given permission by an appropriate health care provider.Research indicates that high school athletes with less than 15 minutes of on-field symptoms exhibited deficits on formal neuropsychological testing and re-emergence of active symptoms, lasting up to one week post-injury.
Athlete must be symptom-free for at least 48 hours before attempting any exertion exercise. Symptoms will typically worsen or re-emerge with exertion, indicating incomplete recovery. If the athlete is symptom-free, light exertion such as use of a treadmill or stationary bike, at low intensity for 10-15 minutes is recommended. Return to play should occur gradually. Individuals should be monitored by an appropriate health care provider for symptoms and cognitive function during each stage of increased exertion. Read more
The concussion specialist should provide information to parents/caregivers regarding the athlete’s condition. For example, the athlete:
Houston Methodist offers unique services - A comprehensive center focused on concussions/head injuries, a concerted effort to reach out to the youth in our community, and enhanced awareness of the dangers of concussions/head injuries, especially in school sports.
For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 713-441-8277.