Fall Sports: What Every Athlete & Parent Should Know About Concussion

By Clare Schuld, BSN, RN, ONC

Whether on the gridiron, soccer field or cheerleading this fall, among contact sport athletes, according the CDC, an estimated 1.6 to 3.8 million sports related concussions occur annually. In December of 2010, NJ Governor Chris Christie signed into law any athlete suspected of sustaining a concussion will be immediately removed from participation in game or practice. The athlete will not be allowed to return to athletic field until evaluated by concussion specialist or licensed healthcare provider trained in the diagnosis and management of concussion and receives written authorization for return to play.

A concussion is a brain injury and all brain injuries are serious. They may be caused by a bump, blow or jolt to the head or body. They can range from mild to severe. Even a “ding,” “getting your bell rung” or bump on the head can be serious. You can’t see a concussion and most sports concussions occur without loss of consciousness. Signs or symptoms of a concussion may show up right after the injury or can take hours or days to fully appear. Your child/athlete must understand to report signs or symptoms to a parent, coach or athletic trainer and seek medical attention right away.

Symptoms reported by the athlete may include one or more of the following:

  • Headache or “pressure” in the head
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Balance problems or dizziness
  • Double vision or changes in vision
  • Sensitivity to light or sound/noise
  • Feelings of sluggishness, fogginess, hazy, or groggy
  • Difficulty with concentration, short-term memory, and/or confusion
  • Depression or anxiety “Just not feeling right” or “Feeling down”
  • Irritable or agitated
  • Sleep disturbance

If you think your child/athlete has suffered a concussion they should be removed from game or practice immediately. No child may return to play until evaluated by a licensed medical practitioner trained in concussion evaluation and treatment and written authorization for return to play is received. Remember; when in doubt, “SIT THEM OUT!”

Clare Schuld is nurse navigator for the Human Motion Institute at Raritan Bay Medical Center (Old Bridge and Perth Amboy, NJ), a comprehensive musculoskeletal program and provider of the ImPACT (Immediate Post Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing) program for High School Sports. For more information, to make an appointment with a Sports Medicine specialist, or a High School interested in the ImPACT program, call 855-5-MOTION.

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