The American Medical Society for Sports Medicine defines concussion as a traumatically induced transient disturbance of brain function. A concussion is a subset of mild traumatic brain injury and at the less-severe end of the brain injury spectrum. Which to everyone else means, you hit your head, very hard.
In the United States, approximately 3.8 million concussions occur yearly during competitive sports and recreational sporting activities.
While anyone may experience a blow that causes a concussion, certain sports put you at greater risk. These include football, hockey, rugby, soccer, and basketball. Women who play these sports are more prone to concussion than men.
Having a prior concussion increases the risk of future concussions.
Symptoms of a concussion include, but are not limited to:
When an athlete sustains a concussion they must be immediately removed from competition and undergo a "brain rest" protocol until the athlete is completely asymptomatic for a period of 24 hours.
Most sports concussions resolve within 7-10 days when treated appropriately. If an athlete’s concussion isn’t diagnosed and they continue to participate in a sporting activity, they risk more serious complications.
Playing a sport with a concussion risks the second injury and can prolong healing time. It can actually worsen the severity of the concussion and result in a rare but possible catastrophic injury, such as severe brain injury, coma, or death.
Once asymptomatic, the athlete must go through a "Return to Play" protocol that lasts 5 days. If the athlete passes one of the following steps without a return in symptoms they may pass to the next step.
Day 1: Light aerobic activity to increase heart rate for 5 to 10 minutes
Day 2: Moderate aerobic activity that still limits head movement
Day 3: Non-contact activity and sports specific drills that are closer to typical workout routine
Day 4: Full contact practice
Day 5: Return to competition
Symptoms that persist beyond a 6-week period indicate "post-concussive syndrome.” This syndrome typically requires advanced therapies and possible interventions with medications or injections. Nutritional support with supplements may improve symptoms of headache and insomnia, and promote brain healing.
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