Know the Red Flags

Many people have heard of concussions, but not many people understand what a concussion really is. Don’t worry, that’s what sports medicine professionals, like athletic trainers and physicians, are for. Concussions are very complicated but essentially, it is a bruise to your brain. What makes diagnosing concussions difficult is that you can’t see it and doctors can’t see it on an X-ray, MRI, or blood test. Concussions can happen if you bump heads with another player, get hit with a hard shot, or run into the goalpost, but they can also happen even if you don’t get hit in the head! A hard fall or a car accident can shake your brain inside your skull and result in a concussion as well. When you get a concussion you might have headaches, feel really tired, or have problems with your memory. You might have some blurry vision, or lights and sound might bother you. It’s important if you get hit or have an injury and you don’t feel right that you stop playing and let someone know. Your brain could be hurt and if you get hit AGAIN that could be even worse. If you suspect you have a concussion, you should go to your primary care doctor or a concussion specialist to be evaluated as soon as possible. You do not need to go to the emergency room or an urgent care unless you are experiencing confusion, memory loss, slurring your words, repetitive vomiting, or the worst headache of your life. Each concussion is a little different, just like snowflakes, and your doctor will make your treatment plan specific for your concussion. In general, it takes two weeks for your brain to heal, but may take longer. You should avoid too much activity, like watching television, using your cell phone, or being in loud places as they can make symptoms worse. It’s also important to notify your teachers because concussions can affect your ability to perform in school. Before you return to sports, a doctor should provide you with written clearance. Look out for yourself and your teammates! If you don’t feel right or your friend is acting funny after they get hit, it’s always safer to come out of the game than to risk damaging your brain!