More than 300,000 young athletes experience sports-related concussions every year in the United States, according to a study by the University of Pittsburgh's Brain Trauma Research Center.
Our team at Gables Neurology in Miami, Florida, led by Dr. Andrew Lerman, provides outstanding care for neurophysiological and neurological disorders, including the latest diagnostics and treatments for concussion and post-concussion syndrome.
Check these facts about concussions in young athletes.
What is a concussion?
A concussion is a mild traumatic brain injury that occurs when your brain forcefully strikes the walls of your inner skull. Although the results are usually temporary, this trauma can result in impairment of reflexes, memory, judgment, speech, balance, or muscle coordination.
A blow to your head sustained during a fall, sports injury, car accident, physical altercation, or other trauma is a leading cause of concussion. However, violent shaking of your upper body or whiplash-type injuries can also cause a concussion.
What are the symptoms of a concussion?
The symptoms of a concussion vary in severity and, contrary to popular belief, don’t usually include loss of consciousness.
You may, however, develop:
- Blurry or double vision
- Ringing in your ears
- Sensitivity to light
- Difficulty concentrating (feeling “foggy”)
Many people with a concussion report “seeing stars” and are often dazed or confused. They may not remember what occurred during the accident or fall, have difficulty responding to questions, or repeatedly ask the same question.
What are the possible complications of a concussion?
Most people recover from a concussion within a few days, provided no further injury occurs. However, symptoms lasting longer than three weeks may indicate post-concussion syndrome, which causes long-term problems with memory, concentration, mood swings, personality changes, debilitating headaches, and excessive fatigue.
Rarely, a condition known as second impact syndrome occurs when fatal brain swelling develops when a second concussion occurs before you’ve entirely recovered from a previous injury.
What should I do if I think my young athlete has a concussion?
Concussions sustained during youth and college sports are common and particularly problematic if the athlete returns to the game before full recovery.
Sports that increase your risk of concussion include football, boxing, martial arts, soccer, hockey, and basketball. However, it’s not the sport, but the type of injury sustained that raises the concern for concussion. For example, even a slip and fall on the tennis court can result in a head injury.
Dr. Lerman encourages anyone concerned about a possible concussion to schedule a neurological evaluation. Otherwise, seek emergency care if your athlete develops:
- Worsening or persistent headache
- Loss of consciousness
- Fluid or blood draining from the nose or ears
- Dilated pupils or pupils of unequal size
- Weakness in arms or legs
- Difficulty recognizing people
- Stumbling or clumsiness
- Seizures or convulsions
Most experts agree that an athlete shouldn’t return to the game the same day they sustain a concussion, even if they’re feeling fine. Treatment for a mild concussion typically includes rest and observation.
Any athlete who develops post-concussion syndrome or has more than one concussion should seek specialty care and medical clearance before returning to a sport.
For more information about diagnosing and treating concussions, schedule an evaluation at Gables Neurology by calling our office today.