What is a Concussion?
Concussion is a brain injury. Concussions, as well as all other head injuries, are serious. They can be caused by a bump, a twist of the head, sudden deceleration or acceleration, a blow or jolt to the head, or by a blow to another part of the body with force transmitted to the head. You can’t see a concussion, and more than 90% of all concussions occur without loss of consciousness. Signs and symptoms of concussion may show up right after the injury or can take hours or days to fully appear. All concussions are potentially serious and, if not managed properly, may result in complications including brain damage and, in rare cases, even death. Even a “ding” or a bump on the head can be serious. If your child reports any symptoms of concussion, or if you notice the symptoms or signs of concussion yourself, your child should be immediately removed from play, evaluated by a medical professional and cleared by a medical doctor.
Common symptoms of a concussion may include headache, passing out, memory loss and fatigue and many others. Not all concussion sufferers will display outwardly obvious symptoms. Typically, with enough rest many people will fully recover from a concussion anywhere between a few hours and several weeks after sustaining the hit.
In some cases, concussions may lead to more serious problems, especially if someone has sustained multiple concussions in the past or has experienced a severe concussion. Long-lasting problems may include social development issues, a dampened learning ability difficulty moving or speaking, permanent brain damage or death. Parents and students should be aware of preliminary evidence suggests repeat concussions, and even hits that do not cause a symptomatic concussion, may lead to abnormal brain changes which can only be seen on autopsy (known as Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE)). There have been case reports suggesting the development of Parkinson’s-like symptoms, Amyotropic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), severe traumatic brain injury, depression, and long term memory issues that may be related to concussion history. Further research on this topic is needed before any conclusions can be drawn.
Because the chance for permanent and severe damage exists, it’s recommended you visit a specially trained physician if you or someone you know is suspected of having a concussion.
Medical management of sports-related concussion has changed over recent years and a tremendous amount of research into sports-related concussion in middle and high school athletes has been established. These concussion research principles have created a unique protocol to provide education on concussion management for parents, coaches, athletic directors, athletes, and other school personnel.
The JSMP seeks to provide resources for concussion evaluation, management and a safe return-to-activity for all athletes after a concussion injury. In order to effectively and consistently manage these injuries, procedures have been developed to aid in insuring concussed athletes are identified, treated and referred appropriately, receive appropriate follow-up medical care during the school day, including academic assistance and are fully recovered prior to returning to activity.
It is estimated that 140,000 high school athletes suffer concussions annually nationwide and many return to play before the injury has completely healed. As a result of the staggering injury numbers, the state of Florida passed the Youth Concussion Law (Add link) in 2012 making it mandatory for a youth athlete suspected of having a concussion to:
- Be immediately removed from play and not return within 24 hrs to allow for appropriate medical evaluation
- Be Evaluated by an appropriate health care provider (MD/DO)
- Receive physician medical clearance prior to beginning a return to play protocol
- Complete a return to play protocol
- Receive medical clearance from treating physician prior to returning to competition