Health Warning - Recognizing a Sports Concussion: September 245, 2011

Young football players may relish the hard-knocking, bone-crushing hits, but it’s taking a toll on their health.

New studies show the number of sports concussions in teens more than doubled between 1997 and 2007.

“There are certainly the classic concussion we think of as anyone who gets knocked out,” says Lee Memorial Health System neurosurgeon Dean Lin.

“The definition of a concussion from a medical standpoint however, includes patients that are not knocked out.”

Health professionals are going on the offensive, making sports concussions a public issue.

“The player needs to understand that if they’re having any sort of problems, they need to let somebody know,” Dr. Lin says.

The single best defense is education. Unlike a broken leg, if not treated properly, a concussion can have long term consequences.

“What wasn’t realized before is the potential implications that they could have down the road, especially with the new evidence coming out with chronic traumatic and encephalopathy.”

Symptoms of a concussion include:
Balance Problems
Visual or Hearing Problems

Concussions are generally divided into three categories: Severe, Moderate and Mild. Mild concussions are often undiagnosed because there is no loss of consciousness and symptoms last under an hour.

Still, the course of action should be to stop and seek medical help.

“Its very frustrating because the player wants to go back and play but then again you don’t want that player to be at increased risk for further injury down the road,” Dr. Lin says.

When it comes to concussions, the best game plan is to play it safe.