Student athletes – in fact, athletes of any age – must be wary of undetected injuries. One injury that often goes undetected and has serious consequences is a concussion.
A concussion results from a blow to the head. Even a mild bump can cause a concussion. When you receive a second concussion before the first has properly healed, it can result in serious complications, even death. That’s why it’s so important that when a concussion occurs, the injury be accurately diagnosed and appropriately treated.
Signs and Symptoms of a Concussion
Signs and symptoms of a concussion can range from mild to severe – but in all cases require a medical examination. Athletes should not return to play until they are free of these signs and symptoms, which could worsen with exertion.
Signs of a concussion that others may observe in an athlete include:
- Appears dazed or stunned
- Is confused about assignment
- Forgets plays
- Is unsure of game, score, or opponent
- Moves clumsily
- Answers questions slowly
- Loses consciousness (even temporarily)
- Shows behavior or personality change
- Forgets events prior to hit (retrograde)
- Forgets events after hit (anterograde)
Concussion symptoms an athlete may self-report include:
- Balance problems or dizziness
- Double or fuzzy vision
- Sensitivity to light or noise
- Feeling sluggish
- Feeling “foggy”
- Change in sleep pattern
- Concentration or memory problems
On-Field Cognitive Testing
Some simple cognitive tests a coach, friend, or loved one may administer at the site of activity include the following. Any failure should be considered abnormal. Consult a sports medicine physician trained in the proper evaluation and management of concussions any time you suspect a concussion.
Ask the athlete:
- What stadium is this?
- What city is this?
- Who is the opposing team?
- What month is it?
- What day is it?
Anterograde Amnesia Test
This type of amnesia involves difficulty remembering things that occurred after the concussion.
Ask the athlete to repeat the following words:
Retrograde Amnesia Test
This type of amnesia involves difficulty remembering things that occurred before the concussion.
Ask the athlete:
- What happened in the prior quarter/period?
- What do you remember just prior to the hit?
- What was the score of the game prior to the hit?
- Do you remember the hit?
Ask the athlete to do the following:
- Repeat the days of the week backward, starting with today.
- Repeat these numbers backward: 63 (36 is correct) 419 (914 is correct)
Word List Memory Test
Ask the athlete to repeat the three words from earlier (girl, dog, green).
Additional Concussion Resources
- Brain injury awareness by the CDC
OSMC Concussion Care Providers