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Guest column: Concussions in student athletics


 

A concussion can be defined as a mild type of traumatic brain injury. Although concussions are usually not life threatening, they can cause problems later in life.

How are concussions caused?

A concussion is caused by a blow to the head or body, often involving a whiplash movement in which the head and brain moves rapidly back and forth. Concussions occur mainly in high impact sports but can also occur in automobile accidents, workplace incidents and falls.

What are the symptoms of a concussion?

Symptoms can include severe headaches, difficulty concentrating, memory loss, lack of coordination, pupil dilation, nausea, compromised balance and vision, bruising, emotional outbursts, difficulty speaking and a disrupted sleep pattern. Hall

What if a concussion is suspected?

Any blow to the head that causes concussion-like symptoms should be reported immediately to the athletic trainer or a coach. Athletic trainers are trained to evaluate and test athletes suspected to have a concussion. If the athlete lost consciousness or has extreme symptoms, they will be sent to the ER for further evaluation. If symptoms are not severe, the athlete will most likely be referred to a physician.

What is recommended regarding rest and recovery?

After a concussion has been confirmed, the athlete will be instructed by the physician to refrain from cognitive and physical exertion, which may include academic rest, in order not to impede recovery.

What is the Return to Play Protocol (RTPP)?

Once an athlete receives medical clearance, they can start the Return to Play Protocol (RTPP). RTPP consists of four steps, directed and supervised by the athletic trainer. The athlete must complete each step without onset of symptoms and be symptom free for 24 hours before progressing to the next step. Step #1 includes light intensity aerobic activity for 10-15 minutes. Step #2 consists of moderate intensity aerobic exercise while including sport specific drills for 45 minutes. Step #3 is participation in non-contact practice/drills, including weight training. Step #4 is full contact practice. If the athlete completes all steps without the onset of symptoms, they can return to full participation.

Taylor (T.J.) Hall, Athletic Trainer at Methodist Hospital, works with Henderson County High School athletes, providing prevention, emergency care, treatment and rehabilitation of athletic injuries. To learn more about Therapy Services at Methodist Hospital, call 270-827-7593.

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