Concussions are a serious risk for all athletes, of every age group, and either sex. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), each year U.S. emergency departments treat an estimated 135,000 sports and recreation-related traumatic brain injuries, including concussions, among children ages 5-18. In fact, it is now estimated that the amount of concussions annually may be as high as 1.6 to 3.8 million in the United States.
Additionally, the CDC reports that athletes who have already had a concussion are at greater risk for another concussion, and children and teens are more likely to get a concussion and take longer to recover than adults.
What is a Concussion?
A concussion is a mild brain injury in which trauma to the head results in a temporary disruption of normal brain function. The injury may involve subtle pulling, tugging or shearing of brain cells without causing any obvious structural damage. After a concussion, the brain does not work right for a while. Loss of consciousness may or may not occur, but confusion or problems with awareness or memory are usually present.
Causes of concussion include anything that makes the brain bounce around and against the side of the skull, such a s a blow or jolt to the head. Symptoms of concussion may be felt immediately or they may take days or weeks to develop.
Concussion symptoms include:
- Loss of memory about the accident
- Low-grade headache or neck pain
- Having trouble:
o Remembering things
o Paying attention or concentrating
o Organizing daily tasks
o Making decisions and solving problems
- Slowness in thinking, acting, speaking or reading
- Feeling fatigued or tired
- Change in sleeping pattern:
o Sleeping much longer than usual
o Trouble sleeping
- Loss of balance
- Feeling light-headed or dizzy
- Increased sensitivity to:
- Blurred vision or eyes that tire easily
- Loss of sense of taste or smell
- Ringing in the ears
- Mood changes:
o Feeling sad, anxious or listless
o Becoming easily irritated or angry for little or no reason
o Lacking motivation
Learn more about recognizing, treating and preventing concussions.
Education and Prevention of Concussions
The key to decreasing the amount of concussions experienced by athletes of all ages is education and prevention. At the Chicago Center for Orthopedics our sports medicine experts are highly experienced in diagnosing, treating and preventing concussions. Our goal is to prevent future concussions through education.
The Centers for Disease Control has several tools to educate athletes and coaches about recognizing, treating and preventing concussions, including wallet cards, fact sheets and videos. Visit http://www.cdc.gov/concussion/index.html for more information and to get the resources you need.
Coaches should take a leadership role in concussion prevention tactics, including establishing a concussion action plan, asking players about any history of concussion, stressing the importance of reporting any bumps or blows to the head players may have received, and encouraging players to visit their doctors for any needed follow-up tests after head injury.
Call (888) 503-ORTHO or Contact Us for a physician referral to an orthopedic specialist at the Chicago Center for Orthopedics.