Patient Education

To help you understand and navigate through your orthopedic health decisions, we have created a patient education section. Please select from one of the categories below to learn more about your condition or procedure.
Sports Concussion

A concussion is caused by a force or blow that causes the brain to move rapidly back and forth inside the skull. This can happen from a direct hit to the head, or from a hit to the body that whips the head violently. Common causes in sports include collisions, falls, or being struck by equipment or another player.

Common Symptoms

  • Headache
  • Dizziness or loss of balance
  • Confusion or difficulty concentrating
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Sensitivity to light or noise
  • Drowsiness or fatigue
  • Irritability or changes in mood
  • Memory loss or amnesia

Diagnosis

There are no definitive tests to diagnose a concussion. Diagnosis is based primarily on the athlete’s self-reported symptoms and an evaluation by a medical professional. Imaging tests like CT scans or MRIs may be done to rule out bleeding or skull fractures, but often appear normal with a concussion.

Prevention

While there is no concussion-proof equipment, proper technique, enforcing rules against head contact, and concussion education can help reduce risk. If an athlete reports or shows any concussion symptoms, they should be immediately removed from play and evaluated by a medical professional.

Treatment

The primary treatment for a concussion is physical and mental rest until symptoms resolve. This may require limiting physical activity, schoolwork, electronics use, etc. Medications may help manage specific symptoms like headaches or sleep issues. Most athletes recover within 1-4 weeks with proper management, but returning too soon risks further injury.

Rehabilitation

After being symptom-free, athletes follow a step-wise return-to-play protocol that gradually increases physical and cognitive demands before full clearance for contact. This paced approach reduces risks of re-injury. In some cases, physical therapy, vision therapy, or other rehabilitation may be needed for persistent symptoms.

FAQ’s

What is a concussion?
A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury caused by a blow or jolt to the head that disrupts normal brain function. It can cause a variety of symptoms like headaches, dizziness, confusion, memory problems, and nausea.

How do sports concussions happen?
Sports concussions typically occur from a direct blow to the head, or from a whiplash motion that causes the brain to shake violently inside the skull. Common causes are collisions, falls, or being struck by equipment or another player, especially in contact sports.

What are the signs of a concussion?
Symptoms can include headache, dizziness, confusion, memory loss, nausea, sensitivity to light/noise, fatigue, irritability, and problems with balance or coordination. Loss of consciousness may occur but is not required for a concussion diagnosis.

How is a concussion diagnosed?
There is no single test to diagnose a concussion. Diagnosis is based on the athlete’s symptoms, evaluation by a medical professional, and sometimes imaging tests like CT scans or MRIs to rule out bleeding or fractures.

How are sports concussions treated?
The main treatment is physical and cognitive rest until symptoms resolve, which usually takes 1-4 weeks. This may require limiting exercise, schoolwork, electronics use, etc. Medications can help manage specific symptoms. A step-wise return-to-play protocol gradually increases physical and cognitive demands before full clearance.

What are the risks of returning too soon?
Returning to play before fully recovering from an initial concussion puts the athlete at greater risk for having the condition last longer, sustaining another concussion with potentially more severe consequences, and developing long-term problems with headaches, concentration, memory, and even emotional issues.

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