What is a concussion?

A concussion is a brain injury. It is defined as a temporary alteration in mental state caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or body. Concussion is the most common form of head injury for athletes. It is not necessary to lose consciousness to have a concussion, nor to actually hit your head. The cumulative effects of repeated concussion can result in permanent intellectual and cognitive changes.

What are the signs and symptoms of concussion?

Signs Observed by Parents and Coaches
• Dazed or stunned appearance
• Confusion (about assignment, position or instruction)
• Answers questions slowly
• Decreased playing ability
• Moves clumsily or in wrong direction
• Change in mood or behavior
• Difficulty recalling events before or after hit/fall
• Loss of consciousness (even briefly)
• Vacant stare
• Poor attention and concentration
Symptoms Reported by the Athlete
• Headache or pressure in head
• Dizziness or balance problems
• Nausea or vomiting
• Blurry vision
• Ringing in ears
• Confusion
• Sensitivity to light or noise
• Fatigue
• Feels sluggish or groggy
• Concentration or memory problems

What to do if you suspect an athlete has a concussion?

Keep the athlete out of play.
The brain needs time to heal; a repeat concussion that occurs before the brain can heal may result in slower recovery or increased likelihood of long term problems.

Seek medical attention right away.
Health care professionals, such as neuropsychologists, are experience in evaluation and diagnosis of concussion. They are able to determine how serious a concussion is and when it is safe for the athlete to return to sports and academics.

How to manage a concussion?

It is important for the injured athlete to avoid physical contact while symptomatic. The athlete may also need a cognitive rest. If going to school, using a computer, playing video games and/or watching television aggravate the athlete’s symptoms then it is important these activities are limited or suspended until symptoms subside.

Sports Concussion Services of Shore Neuropsychology and Behavioral Health

Neuropsychological baseline and concussion testing

Dr. Kristine Keane provides baseline and post injury testing utilizing ImPact testing. ImPact (Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing) is a computerized concussion testing system that aids practitioners in making return to play decisions. ImPACT is the first, most-widely used and validated computerized concussion evaluation system. ImPACT was developed to provide useful information to assist qualified practitioners in making sound return to play decisions following concussions.

Given the inherent complexities of concussion management, it is important to manage concussions on an individualized basis and to implement baseline testing and/or post-injury neurocognitive testing whenever possible. Neurocognitive assessment can help to objectively evaluate the concussed athlete’s post-injury condition and track recovery for safe return to play, thus preventing the cumulative effects of concussion. In fact, neurocognitive testing has been called the “cornerstone” of proper concussion management by an international panel of sports medicine experts.

Return to play decisions

Neuropsychologists determine when the athlete is able to return to his/her sport activities in coordination with a sports medicine physician. Evaluation of the athlete is important prior to returning to play because the athlete must be symptom free. This can be complicated depending on the athlete’s concussion or developmental history.

Return to School decisions

Neuropsychologists utilize post injury data to make recommendations for returning to school or academic course work following a concussion. Until an athlete is symptom free, he or she may be recommended to be given classroom accommodations such as reduced workload, frequent breaks or reduced classroom time. Individual educational plans are created based upon post injury clinical interview and objective testing, and provided to the athlete’s coach, guidance counselor, and pediatrician.

Treatment for Post-Concussion Syndrome (PCS)

Post-Concussion Syndrome is defined by symptoms that occur beyond the window of usual recovery. (Persistent symptoms)
Shore Neuropsychology treatment options:
• Academic Accommodations and Support
• Cognitive Retraining
• Systematic Desensitization
• Progressive Muscle Relaxation

Playing sports are important to athletes of all ages. Being part of a team is often more than just a game. Playing sports fosters a sense of commitment, social responsilbility and belonging and personal develeopment. However, sports must be played safely. Management of concussion is the cornerstone of safe play.

 

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