The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 1.6 to 3.8 million sports- and recreation-related concussions occur each year. Studies show that in rare occasions receiving another concussion before the brain has healed can result in brain swelling, permanent brain damage and even death, particularly among children and teens.
Knowing the signs and symptoms of concussions can help athletes, coaches and parents determine when to remove an athlete from play to prevent further complications.
What is a concussion?
Concussions happen when a sharp force is transmitted to your brain. The force can be a direct blow to the head or a hit elsewhere in the body that travels to the head.
What are the signs and symptoms?
Headache and dizziness are the most common symptoms, presenting in nearly 80 percent of concussions.
Other symptoms include:
· Ringing in the ears
· A dazed and confused feeling
“Historically, people thought you had to have loss of consciousness , or ‘get knocked out’ to have a concussion,” says Dr. Eric Warren of Novant Health Sports Medicine, “but loss of consciousness is only present about 10 percent of the time.”
Additional symptoms, including fatigue, difficulty falling asleep and sadness or depression, can surface within several days of receiving a concussion.
Symptoms can be particularly difficult to discern in infants and toddlers. Nonverbal concussion clues include:
• Appearing dazed
• Listlessness and tiring easily
• Irritability and crankiness
• Loss of balance and unsteady walking
• Crying excessively
• Eating or sleep pattern changes
• Lack of interest in favorite toys
What is the treatment?
Treatment for concussions requires mental and cognitive rest, including time off work or school, and recovery time varies based on the individual and the severity of the injury. In most cases, it takes up to three weeks for symptoms to fully resolve. Anyone who experiences a head injury should see a doctor within one to two days, even if emergency care isn’t required.
Seek emergency care for anyone who experiences a head injury and exhibits symptoms that include:
• Repeated vomiting
• A loss of consciousness that lasts longer than 30 seconds
• Vision or eye disturbances, such as dilated pupils
• A headache that worsens over time
• Behavior changes, such as irritability
• Physical coordination changes, such as stumbling, clumsiness or recurrent dizziness
• Confusion or disorientation
• Slurred speech or other speech changes
• Large head bumps or bruises on areas other than the forehead in children, especially infants younger than 1 year old