Professional, college, amateur and high school sports are taking brain injuries more seriously now than in the past, because we understand the long-term serious effects repeated brain injury can have on athletes.Â Even the NFL (National Football League) has decided to suspend players for helmet-to-helmet hits this season after three players suffered concussions in vicious hits several Sunday’s ago.Â Â The NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) moved last year to suspend players guilty of helmet-to-helmet hits (tackles where the defender intentionally and primarily hits another player with his helmet).Â These new rules are in place to limit concussions that football players of all skill levels can suffer.
What is a concussion?Â A concussion is a mild head injury that results in a temporary impairment of brain function.Â This can be a loss of consciousness, mild confusion, double vision, loss of memory, or just a headache.Â A single mild head injury probably does not cause actual physical damage, but repeated head injuries over time can result in significant, structural brain damage.
Kids, whose brains are still developing, may be more susceptible to the long-term sequelae of brain injury.Â It seems to take high school and junior high students longer to recover from concussion than college students, and it seems to take college students longer to recover than professional athletes.Â So special attention needs to be paid to children and adolescents who suffer head injury, especially repeated head injury.
“It is not just a ‘ding’, you didn’t ‘get your bell rung’, concussion is a brain injury that needs to taken seriously.”
- Dr. Mark Ludes, M.D., pediatrician, Avera Worthington Specialty Clinic.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has noted that children and adolescent athletes who suffer concussion and have persistent symptoms need cognitive and physical rest until their symptoms resolve.Â Cognitive rest may include alterations in school demands, and avoiding activities that require focusing like video games, computers, or television.Â Physical rest may include avoiding all sports and any physically demanding leisure activities like skateboarding or biking. Â There are no medications that can treat or shorten concussion, but some persistent symptoms can sometimes be alleviated with medications.
Determining when to return to play after a concussion is an individualized decision, made in consultation with a physician, because each athlete will recover at a different pace. No pediatric or adolescent athlete with a concussion should ever return to play the same day of their concussion. No athlete of any age should return to play while still symptomatic at rest or at exertion.Â Most concussions will resolve within one to two weeks, but children and adolescent athletes often take longer to recover than college-age or professional athletes.
“When in doubt, sit them out!”.
More information about sports concussions here.
Fine print: The information in this blog is for general information only, and is not intended to be medical advice for a specific situation.Â If you have questions about your medical conditions, please consult your physician.Â If this is a medical emergency, please call 911 to request emergency medical services.