What is the injury known as a concussion?
An injury to the brain that occurs when a forceful motion of the head results in the alteration of mental status; such as confusion and memory loss pre or post the injury.
Loss of consciousness doesn’t have to occur to make the injury a concussion. Only 10% of concussions will have any loss of consciousness. This instant transfer of kinetic energy and the trauma it causes result in physiologic dysfunction that induces neurometabolic changes. Metabolic changes cause the brain to spend all the available glucose on repair and that reduces the brain’s overall ability to function.
Symptoms of concussions can include any of the following but must have at least one to be called a concussion:
- Headaches, blurred vision, altered balance, nausea & vomiting, dizziness.
- Fatigue, sleep disturbances, change in sense of smell & taste
- Mood swings, anxiety, apathy, irritability, poor memory, confusion, poor attention and focus abilities.
What type of injuries cause concussions?
Injuries with or without contact to head that causes the brain to suddenly and rapidly accelerate; closed injury- one that does not fracture the skull; repeated sub concussive blows that accumulate toward injury; force of pressure that moves the brain without contact, explosion
Concussions have 3 Grades:
- Transient confusion and other symptoms that last less than 15 minutes, no loss of consciousness.
- Transient confusion and other symptoms that last more than 15 minutes, no loss of consciousness.
- Any event with loss of consciousness of any length.
What Should I do If a Concussion Occurs?
If you suspect that an athlete has a concussion, implement your 4-step action plan:
- 100 % – MUST – Remove the athlete from play for the remainder of the game. Look for signs and symptoms of a concussion if your athlete has experienced a bump or blow to the head or body. When in doubt, keep the athlete out of play.
- Ensure that the athlete is evaluated by a health care professional experienced in evaluating for concussion. Do not try to judge the severity of the injury yourself. Health care professionals have a number of methods that they can use to assess the severity of concussions. As a coach, recording the following information can help health care professionals in assessing the athlete after the injury:
- Cause of the injury and force of the hit or blow to the head or body
- Any loss of consciousness (passed out/knocked out) and if so, for how long
- Any memory loss immediately following the injury
- Any seizures immediately following the injury
- Number of previous concussions (if any)
- Inform the athlete’s parents or guardians about the possible concussion and give them the fact sheet on concussion. Make sure they know that the athlete should be seen by a health care professional experienced in evaluating for concussion.
- Keep the athlete out of play the day of the injury and until a health care professional, experienced in evaluating for concussion, says they are symptom-free and it’s OK to return to play. A repeat concussion that occurs before the brain recovers from the first—usually within a short period of time (hours, days, or weeks)—can slow recovery or increase the likelihood of having long-term problems. In rare cases, repeat concussions can result in edema (brain swelling), permanent brain damage, and even death.
How we can prevent concussions?
There are many ways to help reduce the risk of a concussion or other serious brain injury both on and off the sports field, including:
- Tell athletes you expect good sportsmanship at all times, both on and off the playing field.
- Wearing the right protective equipment.Use the right protective equipment for the sport or activity. Helmets should fit properly and be:
- age appropriate
- worn consistently and correctly
- appropriately certified for use
- Creating a safe sports culture.Young athletes deserve to play sports in a culture that celebrates their hard work, dedication, and teamwork, and in programs that seek to create a safe environment—especially when it comes to concussion. As a youth sports coach or parent, your actions can create a safe sport culture and can lower an athlete’s chance of getting a concussion or other serious injury.
- Enforcing the rules.Enforce the rules of the sport for fair play, safety, and sportsmanship. Ensure athletes avoid unsafe actions such as:
- Striking another athlete in the head;
- Using their head or helmet to contact another athlete;
- Making illegal contacts or checking, tackling, or colliding with an unprotected opponent; and/or
- Trying to injure or put another athlete at risk for injury.
- Add something about all coaches and board members are Heads Up Certified