Concussions are traumatic brain injuries in which the brain moves rapidly inside the skull. Excessive force can cause the brain tissue to change shape or impact the skull, affecting brain function.

While concussions can result from a blow to the head, jolt to the body, or other traumatic experiences like a car accident, athletes are especially at risk for these injuries. Knowing concussion symptoms if you or your children play sports at any level is essential, as a head injury can lead to long-term health effects.

EmergeOrtho is a local leader in sport concussion management, with an experienced team of board-certified physicians who routinely care for athletes to diagnose and treat these injuries. They urge you to learn the most common concussion symptoms and seek medical attention right away if your child shows any of the signs after a head injury.

The Most Common Concussion Symptoms Among Athletes

It is common for individuals to be unaware that they have a concussion after hitting their head. Others may suspect they have sustained the injury, but ignore it or try to “tough it out” because they can still function. However, even if they can still perform daily tasks and play their sport, doing so can be dangerous. Any time a concussion is suspected, the participant is to be immediately removed from participation.

The consequences of concussions are not always as apparent as other injuries. Although a concussion does not impair one’s ability to walk, as a broken leg or a sprained ankle does, it is still every bit as serious. Even a concussion with minor symptoms can cause permanent brain damage. Returning to normal activity before the concussion heals also increases risk of a more serious brain injury.

Because many people don’t recognize concussion symptoms, or ignore them if they are mild, too many sport-related concussions go untreated. According to the CDC, there are at least 300,000 reported sports-related concussions every year. However, it is suspected that as many as seven times that number go undiagnosed. In other words, it is possible that 2.1 million athletes every year are at risk for second impact syndrome, a second head injury that occurs before a concussion heals.

Therefore, even seemingly minor concussion symptoms should not be ignored. Seeking medical treatment is essential to avoid the consequences of a potentially serious brain injury.

Common symptoms include:

  • Confusion
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Poor balance
  • Vision impairment
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Memory loss
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Difficulty falling asleep
  • Loss of smell or taste
  • Sensitivity to bright light
  • Sensitivity to noise
  • More emotional
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty remembering

If you experience any of those symptoms following a suspected head injury, visit a medical professional trained in concussion management for a thorough evaluation and individualized plan of care.

Concussion Symptoms That Indicate Severe Trauma

While concussions typically resolve in a few days or weeks, some require long-term treatment for optimal recovery.

Severe concussions symptoms require immediate medical attention. Such symptoms can indicate underlying issues such as brain bleeding, which can be fatal if left untreated. Symptoms of a severe concussion include:

  • A persistent/worsening headache
  • Severe/Repeated nausea or vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Slurred speech
  • Weakness in arms or legs
  • Numbness in arms or legs
  • Altered behavior
  • Worsening Confusion
  • Unequal pupils
  • Decreased coordination
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Difficulty waking up
  • Increasing symptom severity
  • Any symptoms persisting more than two weeks

Concussions with severe symptoms have a higher likelihood of resulting in complications and long-term effects. Patients who experience post-concussive syndrome should avoid activities that increase their risk of another concussion. Long-term effects of concussions include:

  • Mood swings
  • Personality changes
  • Headaches
  • Memory problems
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Insomnia
  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness

Concussions First Aid

Any time you or your child sustains a suspected head injury, visit a medical professional trained in concussion management. In addition to following the provider’s instructions, we recommend:

  • Limiting activities of daily living, academics, and screen time to an amount that does not increase symptoms
  • Avoiding exercise including weight training, conditioning, and sport participation
  • Avoiding alcohol
  • Using medication as recommended by your physician – Do not take aspirin or anti-inflammatory medication.
  • Returning to driving and sport only when evaluated and cleared by a medical professional

Getting the Best Concussion Treatment

Despite being serious injuries, many people fail to seek medical attention for concussions because they do not fully understand them. However, seeking medical treatment needs to be a priority, as the long-term effects can be significant and affect overall quality of life.

At EmergeOrtho, our Sports Medicine Team is committed to supporting concussion awareness to parents and their young athletes. We also routinely provide sports medicine services for middle and high school sports teams as well as college, recreation, elite, and professional sports athletes. EmergeOrtho’s concussion management providers offer diagnosis and treatment options to help athletes and the physically active safely return to sports and activities they enjoy.

If you suspect you or your child has a concussion, visit one of our convenient urgent care locations. You can also contact us today or request an appointment for an examination or to have your questions answered.

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