From the Concussion Institute at Gwinnett Medical Center-Duluth
For many families, back to school means back to football season.
“Whether your athlete is a football player, cheerleader, year-round soccer player, marching band member, or just a kid—or adult—who likes to play pick-up basketball or ride his bike,” says David M. Schwartz, PhD, ABPdN, neuropsychologist at the Concussion Institute at Gwinnett Medical Center-Duluth, “here are nine potential concussion symptoms you may see from the sidelines.”
1. Balance problems
2. Looking “dazed” or “out of it”
3. Glassy eyes or blank stare
4. Slurred or incoherent speech
5. More emotional than usual
6. Confusion about game situation or location
7. Behavioral or personality changes
8. Uncoordinated movements
9. Cannot recall events prior to or after impact
“Even if you don’t see any symptoms,” adds Dr. Schwartz, “if your athlete reports any of these symptoms, even hours after a game or practice, it may be concussion-related.”
• Pressure in head
• Blurry or double vision
• Ringing in the ears or hearing problems
• Feeling slowed down or “foggy”
• Drowsy or low energy
• Sensitivity to light and/or noise
• Difficulty remembering
If you suspect a child or an adult has sustained a concussion, take action:
•Treat all impacts to the head and jarring head motions associated with any of the mentioned symptoms like a concussion until proven otherwise. “Recognize that concussion care is very important,” says Dr. Schwartz. “Improper treatment can have life-altering effects.”
•Keep him or her out of activity and sports. A concussion may be exacerbated by activity that is not supervised by a physician or athletic trainer and should be avoided until told otherwise by your health care provider. “Returning to activity before the brain has had time to heal can have life-threatening consequences,” says Dr. Schwartz. “Only a health care professional can clear you for activity following a concussion.”
•Seek medical attention from a sports medicine specialist. Gwinnett Medical Center-Duluth has affiliated physicians with fellowship training in sports medicine and certified athletic trainers who are specialized in the treatment of concussions and other sports injuries. These health care professionals will be able to evaluate you and guide you through the necessary steps to get your child—or yourself— back in the game.
•Inform your child’s teachers of a potential concussion. “Concussions may affect your child’s classroom abilities,” adds Dr. Schwartz, “so communication with the school is very important. Teachers may also notice additional symptoms during class. If so, be sure to pass that information along to your health care professional.”
With about 3.8 million sports, recreational or on-the-job concussions in the United States each year, it’s important to understand more about this traumatic brain injury and how to treat it. For more information on concussion care for both students and adults, visit gwinnettsportsmed.com/resources.
On August 15 the Concussion Institute at Gwinnett Medical Center-Duluth is offering ImPACT testing for athletes ages twelve and up, free of charge. A baseline ImPACT test will allow for better diagnosis and management if a concussion should occur during the playing season. To register, visit gmc-rsvp.org.