The Heads Up on Concussions

By Madeleine M.

A mild traumatic brain injury. That’s the medical description for concussion. A concussion is when you get a whack to your head or neck that causes the brain to shake. Over 1.6 million Americans have concussion related injuries. Thousands of kids and teens get concussions every year. Maryanne Rawlings, the athletic trainer told me that around ten middle school students get concussions every year at GFS. Sports have gotten more and more physical which creates more serious injuries for players. The three main sports prone to concussions are football, soccer and basketball.

signschart One of the major problems with recovering from concussions is they often get worse because an athlete keeps quiet. They won’t tell their coach because they tell themselves that they need to keep playing. It will usually take three weeks or more to recover from any concussion. Kids and teenagers take longer to recover than adults. There are a lot of side effects too, such as headaches, nausea and dizziness.  Having a concussion can create problems later in life, like having trouble concentrating, difficulty remembering and confusion. It will definitely get worse if they continue to play. Each concussion is different. Many cases have trouble reading, doing math and science. One thing that can confuse people about knowing if someone has a concussion is unconsciousness. Most concussions occur without it. In most cases there is no blood. Thinking that a person has to be unconscious or bleeding is a slip-up made by many people, including the athlete. For many people the guideline for injuries is no blood, no problem. That is the wrong way to look at it. Concussions can affect the rest of your life. Having had multiple concussions can have an even bigger impact on your life. Even when athletes have this information, knowing that it is not okay to not say something with a head injury. It still happens. It happens with pretty much any injury. The player says something along these lines: I have to keep playing, it’s not so bad, this is nothing, I’ll walk it off. Then some time later they are at the hospital and the doctor is telling them they have a concussion. Maryanne says “more people are telling right away.” One doctor at CHOP can sometimes see 50 patients with concussions per week during fall sports season. Mild traumatic brain injury doesn’t sound fun and it isn’t. Concussions in sports are a serious issue. At the moment there isn’t a way to solve it. Concussions are hard to prevent. Keeping quiet is one thing to never do with a head injury. Athletes have to make the decision. The important thing is: don’t keep quiet. Playing sports you know the risks, head injuries are a risk that cannot be ignored.  Equally important is that every head injury should be followed up no matter what your symptoms are.