May 14, 2015

Concussion: Know When to Call 911

There are an estimated 50 million kids playing competitive youth sports in the United States. Some of the sports where athletes are most vulnerable to sports-related concussions are listed below.

A concussion is a traumatic brain injury that occurs when the brain hits the inside of the skull. Most often this occurs due to a direct blow to the head, but concussions can also occur when the body is hit hard and the head snaps forward or backward. While concussions are typically not life threatening, sport-related concussions should be closely watched by doctors, coaches and parents because appropriate management is essential for reducing the risk of long-term symptoms and complications. Signs and symptoms of a concussion are not always immediate but may occur after a short delay.

When a concussion occurs, you may observe that the athlete:

  • Appears dazed or stunned
  • Is confused
  • Forgets plays
  • Is unsure of game, score or opponent
  • Exhibits unsteadiness
  • Moves clumsily
  • Answers questions slowly
  • Has behavior or personality changes
  • Can’t recall events either before or after hit
  • Loses consciousness

An athlete with a concussion may have:

  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Balance problems or dizziness
  • Sensitivity to light or noise
  • Concentration or memory problems
  • Double or fuzzy vision
  • Feelings of being "in a fog"
  • Confusion

An athlete with signs of a concussion should be removed from play immediately and not allowed to return until evaluated by a doctor. Do not leave the athlete alone after a concussion.

Call 911 for immediate medical help if your child displays:

  • A headache that gets worse, lasts for a long time or is severe
  • Confusion, extreme sleepiness or trouble waking up
  • Vomiting (more than once)
  • Seizures (arms and legs jerk uncontrollably)
  • Trouble walking or talking
  • Weak or numb arms or legs
  • Any other sudden change in thinking or behavior

Most athletes with a concussion will recover completely within a few weeks of the initial injury. Returning to play before completely recovering puts the athlete at risk for a more serious injury, long-term damage and even death.