How do I know if my son/daughter or player has sustained a concussion?

Concussions can be difficult to properly recognize given the wide range of symptoms & individual responses (especially for the lay person). Symptoms such as headache and dizziness are common yet can also occur in a variety of other sport-related issues (eg. dehydration, heat-related illness).To complicate things further, the appearance of symptoms may be delayed for several minutes or even hours after the initial injury.

A useful rule of thumb to convey to athletes, parents, or coaches: If a player presents with one of the symptoms listed previously and has the mechanism of a head injury, treat it as a concussion. It is important to realize that the mechanism of injury may be subtler and not as obvious as a “big hit.” An athlete that is not acting normally, having difficulty remembering plays or following instructions may have sustained an injury several hours previously. There should be absolutely NO return to play on the same day as the injury regardless of the level of athletic performance.

Parents, coaches, and trainers should be taught that a symptom scale/checklist is a good method for identifying symptoms that may be indicative of concussion.For the team coach or trainer who knows the athlete well, it may be obvious that the athlete is struggling with simple questions and/or is acting unusual or different. Other cases are less apparent. Sideline concussion evaluations, which assess orientation, concentration, and memory, help to determine how well the athlete’s brain is working. The Pocket Concussion Recognition Tool (see below) is a valuable sideline assessment tool that can be used to evaluate the domains above, however it is not designed to take the place of a more comprehensive evaluation by a medical professional.



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