Concussion refers to a traumatic brain injury that occurs during sport and usually results in transient neurocognitive changes. There has been a great deal of research published recently about the cumulative impact of concussion. Every athlete who experiences a concussion has a unique trajectory toward recovery. It is well known that athlete’s who experience a second or third concussion may be at risk for long term cognitive symptoms unless they rest until the symptoms are completely gone. A concussion is a the result of significant force or trauma applied to the head of an athlete. Even heading the soccer ball can contribute to the effects of concussion in certain circumstances. It is now well known that female athletes are particularly vulnerable to concussion and that their recoveries differ from those of their male counterparts in sport. A study published in January 2016 in the Journal of Pediatrics suggests that preadolescent boys are at higher risk of concussion when playing on varsity ice hockey teams. The study at Hasbro Children’s Hospital in Providence, RI also suggested that girls playing ice hockey who are heavier may be at greater risk for concussion. On average, the preadolescent boys in the study took 54 days to become symptom free.
SYMPTOMS OF CONCUSSION
Not always associated with loss of consciousness
Dizziness and change in balance
Ringing in the ears (tinnitis)
Poor short term memory
Emotionality – irritability and sadness
Fatigue – often accompanies change in sleep pattern
Mental slowing – decreased mental efficiency
Many youth organizations are offering education and baseline testing for concussion prevention. Symptoms of concussion are often quite different from player to player although there are a host of symptoms most frequently attributed to concussion. An athlete does not need to loose con
sciousness in order to be diagnosed with a concussion. Symptoms include confusion, decreased concentration, headache, decreased short-term memory, sleep disturbance, irritability, cognitive slowing, and impaired balance. An athlete need not be rendered unconscious to be diagnosed with concussion.
ImPACT™ (Immediate Post-concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing) was developed over the past decade by sports concussion researchers Mark Lovell, Ph.D., Michael Collins, Ph.D., and Joseph Maroon, M.D. at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) Sports Medicine Concussion Program. It is the first and most widely used computerized evaluation system to objectively assess the effects and severity of concussion and injury recovery progress and help determine the management of the return to contact sports following a concussion.