Concussions: Caution Is a No-Brainer

Concussions are a traumatic brain injury caused by a blow or jolt to the head. It forces the soft tissue of the brain to knock against the skull's bony surface. Although they range from mild to severe, they're all serious injuries that can harm the way the brain works. For many of these injuries, the athletes never lose consciousness yet still suffer serious damage.

Common immediate signs and symptoms of concussion include:

  • Headache

  • Dizziness

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting

  • Fatigue

  • Visual complaints

  • Confusion

More long-term symptoms include

  • Sleep disturbances

  • Difficulty with memory and concentration

  • Chronic headaches

  • Psychological problems

Concussions can happen to any boy or girl in any sport. The short-term effects of a concussion can generate additional problems that may plague a person through life. When young athletes have a flawed memory, they can have trouble concentrating in school, relating to other kids, or sleeping well. These things can have long-term, devastating consequences.

One grave danger occurs when athletes go back to the game before they fully recover from a concussion. In such a case, even a mild blow can cause second-impact syndrome. That can lead to brain swelling, brain damage, and even death. Statistics also show that athletes with a history of concussion are at much greater risk for another concussion than an athlete with no prior concussion.

Teammates have to keep an eye on each other. Athletes must also let everyone know if they hurt their heads.

Parents should make sure that children wear the right safety gear during all practices and games and that schools have a concussion plan. If you think your athlete has a concussion, the CDC says:

  • Seek medical help at once.

  • Bench your child until a healthcare professional who knows the return-to-play guidelines says it's OK to play.

  • Tell all your child's coaches about any past concussion.