Sports and concussions have had a long history, and yet many people ignore how prevalent and how serious brain injuries can be. Many athletes, especially in a high contact sport, will experience a concussion at some point in their athletic career. However, there is a lack of awareness for what a concussion is and what signs and symptoms to look out for.
What is a Concussion?
According to the CDC, a concussion is classified as a traumatic brain injury, or TBI. It can be caused by a hit or jolt to the head or body where the brain rapidly moves back and forth, resulting in some damage (2). Concussions fall on a spectrum, ranging in severity from mild, to moderate, to severe. Recovering from a concussion is not a linear process. Sometimes it takes someone a week to recover, and sometimes it takes multiple months. It depends on the specific individual and other factors, including the severity of the impact and previous concussion history.
Concussions in Sports
Concussions are guaranteed to happen at some point in sports, especially high contact sports like football, hockey and soccer. University of Michigan Health states that the CDC estimates that 5-10% of athletes will experience a concussion in any given sports season (3). Not even to mention the amount of concussions that go undetected and unreported. Athletes tend to have a mentality to push through the pain, and that is great in situations like strength and conditioning; but when it comes to injuries like a concussion, they need to be smart in how they go about it or else they risk further injury.
Former athlete Erin Babcock shares her experience, “As a former Division 1 soccer player, I have had my fair share of concussions. I have had mild ones, moderate ones, and one very severe concussion. I also have first-hand experience of coming back too early from a severe concussion, only for it to hurt me and negatively affect my performance and play. When I returned to play after my injury, I developed consistent headaches while I practiced, competed, and exercised in most ways. I still deal with sporadic headaches to this day and I have not played soccer competitively for almost four years now. I would advise anyone who suspects they might have a concussion to be careful, be patient and tell someone you trust so that you can receive the proper help. They are an extremely serious and sensitive injury, and therefore, must be handled with caution.”
Signs and Symptoms of a Concussion
Some signs (what can be observed) and symptoms (what can be felt) that are common with concussions:
|Signs of a Concussion||Symptoms of a Concussion|
|Can’t recall events prior or after the hit||Headache|
|Appears dazed or moves clumsily||Nausea / Vomiting|
|Forgets or is confused about instructions||Dizziness, Blurred vision, Coordination issues|
|Loses consciousness||Sensitive to light or noise|
|Mood, behavior or personality changes||Confusion, Concentration / Memory problems|
Info from CDC: Concussion Signs and Symptoms (1)
Try to recognize these signs/symptoms in yourself, your teammates or your athletes if you are a supervising adult, parent, coach or trainer. Once you recognize them and become aware of the potential harm, the next thing to do is report the situation.
Getting Help for a Concussion
If you feel like you, or someone you know, may have suffered a concussion, make sure you notify someone that can help you, whether that is a parent, coach or athletic trainer. It is better to let someone know and take time off your sport to fully recover, than to keep it to yourself and continue playing, risking your brain for further damage. There is something called second impact syndrome (SIS), which is when an individual receives another head injury before the first head injury has had a chance to fully recover. This can lead to more extensive, and very serious damage to the brain that could result in neurological issues and potentially death. If you suspect you or someone you know has a concussion, it is vital that you notify someone and take the time needed for a full recovery.
Your life extends far past your sport, so please do not risk your future health!
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2019, February 12). Concussion signs and symptoms. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved September 6, 2022, from https://www.cdc.gov/headsup/basics/concussion_symptoms.html
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2019, February 12). What is a concussion? Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved September 6, 2022, from https://www.cdc.gov/headsup/basics/concussion_whatis.html
- Concussion in athletes. Concussion in Athletes | Michigan Medicine. (n.d.). Retrieved September 6, 2022, from https://www.uofmhealth.org/conditions-treatments/brain- neurological- conditions/concussion-athletes-neurosport#:~:text=Concussions%20in% 20athletes%20are%20extremely,in%20any%20given%20sports%20season