Back-to-school also means back to the locker room, football field, and gym for many students—38 million each year, according to Safe Kids USA. And while participating in team and individual sports is a great way for kids and young adults to hone healthy habits, injuries can occur. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that as many as 3.8 million athletes suffer concussions every year in the United States. Discover answers to common questions about concussions from the Concussion Clinic at Children’s of Alabama.
- What is a concussion? A concussion is a brain injury caused by a hard hit.
- What are the ramifications of a concussion? The effect of a concussion on the developing and adolescent brain is unknown, but athletes who have had a single concussion are much more likely to suffer subsequent concussions. Younger athletes may also take longer than college and professional athletes to recover from concussion.
- Which sports have the highest rate of concussion? Sports with the highest rates of concussion include football and hockey, though significant numbers occur in other sports, including lacrosse, soccer, and basketball.
- What are the signs of a concussion? Most concussions are associated with symptoms like headaches, confusion, nausea, dizziness, and blurred vision.
- Do concussions cause a loss of consciousness? While concussions can result in a loss of consciousness, 90% of them do not.
- What should you do if you suspect a concussion? When a concussion is suspected, it is most important to immediately remove the athlete from the playing field and have him/her assessed by an experienced athletic trainer or on-field physician. Young athletes who return to play before their symptoms are assessed are at higher risk for significant brain injury.
- What should an athlete do before returning to sports after experiencing a concussion?Athletes should not return to play the same day of injury, and instead should follow the following stages. Each stage should comprise 24 hours, and the athlete should return to stage 1 if symptoms recur. Resistance training should only be added in later stages, and medical clearance should be given before the athlete returns to play.
- Rest until asymptomatic (physical and mental rest)
- Light aerobic exercise (e.g. stationary cycle)
- Sport-specific exercise
- Non-contact training drills (start light resistance training)
- Full contact training after medical clearance
- Return to competition (game play)
Learn more about the Concussion Clinic at Children’s of Alabama.