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Recognize concussion symptoms and safety

Published in Rehabilitation Services, For the Health of It Author: Karla Fleming, MS, SLP-CCC

The beginning of the Fall sports practice season is a great time to be reminded about concussion safety. A concussion is a mild brain injury. Studies have shown that greater than 50% of high school athletes admitted hiding a possible concussion. On average, 1 in 10 people have symptoms from the concussion for longer than 3-4 weeks. It’s important for everyone to be familiar with the signs and symptoms of a concussion. After all, concussions can happen in any sport or activity.

Observable symptoms of concussion may include:

  • Appearing dazed or confused
  • Forgetting instructions
  • Being unsure of the game, score or opponent
  • Moving clumsily
  • Answering questions slowly
  • Losing consciousness (even briefly)
  • Showing mood, behavior or personality changes
  • Inability to recall events prior to or after a hit or a fall

Reported symptoms of concussion may include:

  • Headache or head “pressure”
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Balance or dizziness problems
  • Double or blurry vision
  • Sensitivity to light or noise
  • Confusion, sluggishness, fogginess or grogginess
  • Concentration or memory recall problems
  • Just “not feeling right” or “feeling down”

It’s important to note that with every concussion, the associated symptoms and recovery process are different for each person. Some symptoms may not be noticeable for hours, days or weeks after the injury. Subtle symptoms or changes should not be dismissed.

If you suspect someone has a concussion, be sure to report it to a coach or parent. If you suspect you have a concussion and are struggling with symptoms for longer than 3-4 weeks, don’t tough it out! Follow up with your primary health care provider. Suffering a repeat concussion while healing can result in prolonged recovery and potentially life-changing problems.

Next: Developing a concussion care plan and tips for concussion recovery.