Condition: Sports concussions are brain injuries that result from a blow to the head. Usually there is no loss of consciousness.
Background: Each year, about 2-4 million people in the U.S. have sports concussions. The injury causes changes in the brain that may last for days or weeks.
Risk Factors: Concussions are most common in boys playing football and girls playing soccer but any sport can result in concussion. After one concussion, a person has a higher risk of having another concussion.
History and Symptoms: Symptoms usually appear right after the blow to the head. They may include headache, confusion, nausea, memory loss, and ringing in the ears. Other symptoms may appear a little later, such as trouble sleeping or concentrating, or feeling tired, irritable, or anxious.
Physical Exam: After any blow to the head, the injured person should be checked by a doctor or someone else who knows how to identify a concussion. First, they will check to see if anything is broken. Then, they will ask about symptoms and try to find out if the athlete remembers what happened, where he is, and what is happening.
Diagnostic Process: There are no blood tests or imaging tests to diagnose concussion. Instead, the doctor will do tests to find out how well the brain is working. These tests may include looking into the eyes and watching how the eyes move. Other tests will check reflexes, balance, coordination, concentration, and attention.
Rehab Management: The brain needs to rest after a concussion so it can heal. This means not doing physical as well as mental activities. Even watching TV and reading can make symptoms worse. Some people also need treatment for depression, anxiety, or sleep problems.
Other Resources for Patients and Families: Families need to understand the importance of rest following a concussion.