What is a concussion?
A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury that results in a functional impairment rather than a structural injury. Concussions are typically caused by direct blows to the head, with or without a loss of consciousness. Concussions can result in a wide range of symptoms that can interfere with a person’s day-to-day life.
How Common are Concussions?
Sport-related concussions are fairly common in athletes. It is hard to know the exact number because many concussions go unreported. In recent years, the number of concussion diagnoses has increased, likely due to both improved reporting and increased number of athletes participating in sports. This is particularly true with adolescent student-athletes, which is the group that has seen the largest increase in concussion diagnoses over the past few decades. Tackle football, men’s ice hockey, and women’s soccer are the sports most commonly associated with concussion diagnoses.
Symptoms of a concussion may be obvious, such as headache or blurry vision, or may be as subtle as simply not feeling quite right. While the vast majority of patients will recover without issue within a couple of weeks, some patients may experience prolonged symptoms.
When evaluating a patient for a sport-related concussion, it is important to understand and recognize the many ways in which the symptoms of a concussion may manifest. Whether the primary symptoms seem to be related to cognition, balance, coordination, and/or vision, each concussion is unique to the individual. When a patient with a suspected sports concussion is seen by a physician from the ONS concussion team, they will receive a thorough evaluation to identify the particular symptoms and triggers so that a tailored treatment plan can be created.
Since many people who experience a concussion are student-athletes, our primary goal is always to ensure a swift and smooth return to school. Concussions may lead to various symptoms related to concentration and focus. As a result, some student-athletes may require specific recommendations to aid with the transition back to school. After ensuring a safe return to school, our providers will then help to oversee a safe, progressive return to sport by providing specific recommendations and communicating with athletic trainers and coaches.
The Path to Recovery is Not Always Straight
For those patients who are not recovering as expected, our providers may recommend a referral to various physical and/or occupational therapists who can treat particular symptoms associated with concussion. Occasionally, some patients may require additional referrals to other doctors who specialize in the treatment of headaches, sleep disorders, psychological issues and visual problems.
The ONS Sports Concussion Evaluation and Treatment Process
If you are experiencing symptoms and are concerned you may have experienced a concussion, the ONS Sport Concussion Center is here to help. Getting the right treatment as soon as possible can help you recover as quickly and completely as possible.
Please visit a nearby emergency room if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms following a concern for head trauma, as these may indicate a more serious condition:
- Unequal pupil size
- Drowsiness or inability to wake up
- Persistent or worsening headache
- Slurred speech, weakness, numbness, or decreased coordination
- Repeated vomiting or persistent nausea
- Convulsions or seizures
- Unusual behavior, increased confusion, restlessness, or agitation
- Loss of consciousness