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What are the signs of a concussion?

If you play sports or have a child involved in athletics, you will want to know the answer to the question above. Even concussions with mild symptoms should be taken seriously. If you suspect that either you or someone you care for has experienced a concussion, it is important to seek professional medical attention immediately. Concussions can have both short and long term health impacts.

At EmergeOrtho, we have a highly-skilled, board-certified team of physicians that routinely diagnose and treat sports-related concussions. We provide baseline testing as well as injury evaluation, precision diagnosis, and evidence-based treatment options to help ensure a safe return to sports and activities.

Learn everything you need to know about sports-related concussions and how to safely recover with the sophisticated, patient-centered care provided by EmergeOrtho.

What Are the Signs of a Concussion?

It is estimated that between 1.7 and 3 million sports- and recreation-related concussions occur in the United States each year. A concussion is a traumatic brain injury that may or may not involve a loss of consciousness. Often, a sports-related concussion results from a bump, blow or jolt to the head or body that causes the brain to move quickly back and forth inside the head.

Concussion symptoms can range from mild to severe (also referred to as traumatic brain injury). For this reason, it is vital to seek medical attention as soon as possible.

In most cases, concussion symptoms will appear immediately after an injury—but this is not always the case. Sometimes the signs and symptoms may not appear until hours or even days after the injury.

Symptoms of a Concussion may include:

  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Blurred vision
  • Feeling foggy
  • Sensitivity to light and/or noise
  • Feeling slowed down
  • Fatigue
  • Confusion
  • Irritability
  • Nervousness or anxiety
  • Emotional/sadness
  • Sleeping more or less than usual
  • Difficulty remembering or concentrating
  • Balance problems
  • Vomiting

The Following Danger Signs Indicate an Immediate Trip to the Emergency Department:

  • Worsening headache
  • Repeated vomiting/nausea
  • Slurred speech
  • Unequal pupils
  • Altered behavior
  • Worsening confusion; unable to recognize people or places
  • Experience loss of consciousness or seizure
  • Weakness or numbness in arms or legs

Next Step

If you suspect an athlete has a concussion, all activity, especially athletics/sports should be ceased immediately. It is essential for the athlete to be evaluated by an experienced healthcare professional with training in concussion management.

Diagnosis and Treatment

To help diagnose a sports-related concussion your doctor will perform a thorough neurological examination that evaluates balance, coordination, hearing, vision, and reflexes. A CT and/or MRI scan is not needed in most cases, however may be suggested to help guide a personalized treatment plan.

Rest often serves as the priority protocol for concussion treatment. Temporary removal of stimulants such as computer work, video games, television, and even reading may be necessary for a short duration (typically seven to ten days).

Again, based on the severity of concussion will determine the exact individualized treatment plan for each patient.

At EmergeOrtho, part of our recovery plan for each patient who has sustained a concussion is to ensure open communication with the athlete, parents, coaches, teachers, and school administration.

Baseline Concussion Testing: Why it is important

A valid baseline concussion test is the first step to effective concussion management. The baseline test is essentially a “physical” for the brain. It should be completed prior to any sports season. As the adolescent matures or an athlete sustains a head injury, the test should be retaken for an accurate baseline measure.

The computerized testing is set-up similar to a video game and takes roughly 30 minutes to complete. It collects information such as memory, reaction time, speed, and concentration to obtain a set of individual control data. The baseline test is appropriate for those between the ages of 10 and 59 years old, who are at risk for a sport-related concussion.

No concussion is the same. It is important to care for each concussion individually. Personalized baseline concussion test scores are compared with post-injury scores. Without a baseline test to use for evaluation, an individual’s post-injury scores can only be compared to the general population.

*Please note that baseline testing may only be available at select EmergeOrtho locations.

Second Impact Syndrome (SIS)

Second Impact Syndrome (SIS) occurs when an athlete sustains a head injury while still symptomatic from a previous head injury. SIS is of great concern in pediatric athletes due to the immaturity of the brain. It is also a concern when a concussion is not reported or misdiagnosed. SIS results in cerebral swelling and increased intracranial pressure leading to coma then death. Although SIS is rare it is important to be aware and educated of the condition, especially for young athletes.

Return to Activity

No return to play or physical activity should occur while signs or symptoms of a concussion are present. It is recommended that an athlete with a suspected concussion not return to play until he or she has been medically evaluated. This is a requirement in North Carolina (Gfeller-Waller Concussion Awareness Act) to protect the safety of student-athletes.

EmergeOrtho Concussion Care

As North Carolina’s premier orthopedic solution for concussion care, we cover athletes participating across a spectrum of sports and activities; including middle/high school, college, recreational, elite, and professional levels of play.

For concussion baseline testing or concussion management solutions, schedule a consultation now with one of our highly-qualified EmergeOrtho physicians.

Medical Advice Disclaimer

This website does not provide medical advice. The information on this website is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. For questions regarding a medical condition or treatment, seek the advice of your doctor or other qualified healthcare providers. Never disregard professional medical advice because of something you read on this website. If you need medical advice or treatment, click here to schedule an appointment.

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EmergeOrtho is full of wonderful doctors! They make sure they go over every little thing and explain stuff so that you understand. I have 4 different doctors here and have been pleased with them all.

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They treat you with respect take the time to understand what your needs are and work toward that gold of fixing the problem. Very professional in everything they do I love going there for treatment can't say that about many healthcare systems. I recommend EmergeOrtho to everyone I see.

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