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From The Trainer’s Room: Know, recognize the signs and symptoms of a concussion


chris_phillipsOver the last 10 years, concussions have become a hot topic in youth and professional sports and for just cause.

The media is constantly showing violent hits in sports and the injuries have sparked medical research and education into concussions and the long-term effects they may cause. Many changes in the way concussions are handled will greatly benefit an athlete’s health not only today, but in the future.

A concussion is defined as “a traumatic injury to the brain that alters mental status or causes other symptoms.”

Concussions can be caused by a direct blow to the head or an indirect blow to the body that can violently shake the head. When a concussion occurs, the brain typically is accelerated quickly and can make contact with the inside of the skull causing a bruise or can be twisted or stretched, causing a dysfunction of normal brain activity. Many concussions are often overlooked because athletes think “they just got their bell rung,” “didn’t get knocked out” or “just have a headache.”

Though we have been better educated better in recent years, there is still a lot to learn regarding signs, symptoms and how to manage a concussion.

How do you know if you have a concussion?

First, you need to look for signs and symptoms. The most common symptoms include an individual appearing dazed or confused, headache, dizziness, balance difficulties, visual problems, short- or long-term memory difficulties, not feeling right, sensitivity to light or noise, difficulty concentrating. If any of these signs or other symptoms occur following a collision, a concussion should be assumed and the athlete should be held out of participation and referred to a qualified physician for proper diagnosis and management.

It is always best to err on the side of caution as the athlete is at a higher risk of a second concussion that may occur before the first one has healed. This additional injury is second impact syndrome, which can lead to further injury, or even death.

Chris Phillips is a certified athletic trainer and strength and conditioning specialist and a former NHL athletic trainer.

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