It is important for coaches, trainers, and parents to recognize when a concussion may have occurred. A concussion is a brain injury that occurs when the neck and/or head accelerates. This can be caused by a direct hit to the head or when another body part is hit by a rapidly moving object which causes a whiplash-effect. This is referred to as the ‘mechanism of injury’ of concussion.
These are the 22 symptoms that an athlete can complain about after a concussion:
Pressure in the head
Nausea or vomiting
Sensitivity to light
Sensitivity to noise
Feeling slowed down
Don’t feel right
Fatigue or low energy
Trouble falling asleep
Nervous or anxious
If you observe the mechanism of injury of concussion and the athlete complains of at least one symptom, they must be immediately pulled from their activity. It is recommended that they are assessed by a health care professional with specialized training in treating concussions. “If in doubt, sit them out!”…it is better to be over-cautious than to allow an athlete to continue to play if you are unsure.
It is important to note that some athletes will have more than one of these symptoms normally. A pre-season Baseline Concussion Test will document this…more on that in a future article.
Other neurological signs and symptoms that warrant an immediate visit to the emergency room are:
Fainting or blacking out, extreme drowsiness, or can’t be awakened
A constant, severe, or worsening headache
Repeated vomiting (more than 2x)
Cannot remember new events (repeating the same questions: “why are we here?” “where are we?” etc.)
Cannot recognize people or places (confusion)
Acting strange, saying odd or incoherent things (changes in behaviour
Seizures (jerking of the body or limbs, or a blank stare)
Inability to move parts of the body, weakness in arms or legs, or clumsiness
Blurred vision or slurred speech
Being unsteady on feet or loss of balance
Continual fluid or bleeding from ear or nose
A responsible adult should watch the concussed athlete closely for at least 24 hours after the injury. The concussed athlete should not be permitted to sleep for at least 2-3 hours following the injury and should be checked on every 2 hours throughout the first night.