How to recognize the signs of concussion
It's important to know what to look for after an athlete sustains an injury.
Concussions are caused by a direct or indirect blow to the head. When this happens, the brain gets bounced around in the skull, causing injury to the brain. You don't have to actually get hit on the head to have a concussion. Bodily contact can also result in brain injury.
There has been increasing concern in recent years about the incidence of concussions in young athletes. Recognizing when an athlete may have sustained possible head injury and knowing what to do if you suspect concussion can be the difference in whether the athlete suffers long-term effects from the injury or fully recovers.
Some signs of concussion may appear right away, but others may not show up until hours or days after injury. Signs of possible concussion include:
- Loss of consciousness
- Inability to recall events prior to or after the event
- Looking dazed or stunned
- Moving clumsily
- Pupils that are enlarged or not equal in size
- Slurred speech
- Headache or a feeling of pressure in the head
- Nausea or vomiting
- Blurry or double vision
- Dizziness or balance problems
- Sensitivity to noise or light
- Difficulty concentrating or remembering information
- Irritability or nervousness
- Moodiness, sadness or other personality changes
- Excessive sleepiness or sluggishness
- Difficulty falling or staying asleep
- Just not "feeling right"
If you think an athlete may have a concussion following a hit, fall or other event, immediately remove the athlete from practice or play. When in doubt, have them sit it out. It's also important to have the athlete evaluated by a medical professional. A quick concussion test on the sidelines is not enough.
In addition to looking for signs of concussion immediately after the incident, you should continue to check the person for the next few days. If any new symptoms appear or they get worse, take the person to a doctor or the emergency room right away.