It's hard to watch, participate or be involved with sports on any level without hearing the word concussion. Overall I believe the awareness, education and research has greatly improved over the last 10 years. However, there is still a large number of concussions that go unreported and un-diagnosed. As healthcare professionals, teachers, coaches and parents we need to continue to promote awareness of this hot topic issue to ensure young people get proper medical attention and care to avoid long-term cognitive and mental dysfunction.
Concussions have risen some 200% in young people between the ages of 14 and 19 in the last decade. Football is the most common sport to sustain a concussion for student athletes. Football is followed by boys ice hockey, girls soccer, boys lacrosse, girls lacrosse and boys soccer for exposure. Each year 1.7-3 million concussions are reported among teenagers. Concussions are impact injuries caused by a collision between participates, balls/pucks/sticks and equipment. Some concussion involve a loss of consciousness (LOC), however 90% of concussions do not involve a LOC.
Are Concussions All Sports Related?
Sports are not the only place where individuals can sustain a concussion. They are also common among people involved in motor vehicle accidents, home repair accidents, falls from height and various work place incidents. From 2005 to 2010 diagnosed concussion have nearly doubled in the US. That's in the general public and not sport participation alone!
Post concussion symptoms typically include cognitive dysfunction and memory deficit (difficulty with memory recall, difficulty forming new memories, and difficulty remembering the concussion incident.). Other symptoms include sensitivity to light, head and neck pain, headaches, irritability, disturbed sleep, difficulty with concentration and difficulty in environments with lots of stimulation, noise and bright lights like driving a car, going to school/class or work, and even taking a trip to the local grocery store.
Symptoms may not appear at all, could be delayed, or may last for days, months or even years. There is much variability from person to person and from concussion to concussion. It is important to remember all concussion are serious and should be treated and diagnosed by a professional. Concussions are more likely in individuals with a past medical history of concussion. Professionals typically experienced with concussion diagnosis and management include athletic trainers, physical therapists, primary care physicians and neurologists.
Please make an apt with your local doctor if you believe you may have sustained a concussion or 911 if you need immediate medical attention.
Ryan J. Orner, PT, DPT