A concussion (also called Mild Traumatic Brain Injury) is a traumatic alteration in mental status that may or may not be accompanied by loss of consciousness. It is a disturbance of brain function without measurable change in brain anatomy.
Common misconceptions are that you have to lose consciousness to suffer a concussion — that you ‘just got your bell rung’ and that once a player feels better he can return to the game. However, significant injury can occur without loss of consciousness and by allowing the athlete to return to the game places him at risk of developing Second Impact Syndrome.
Second Impact Syndrome is a potentially FATAL injury that occurs when a second head injury, even a minor one, is sustained before the previous head injury has completely resolved. Unfortunately it is difficult to determine if the brain has healed from the first injury and neurocognitive testing may help physicians determine when it is safe for an athlete to return to sports. Experts recommend that all athletes who sustain a concussive episode, no matter how minor, undergo an evaluation, treatment and clearance by a trained medical physician before return to play.
Given the complexity of concussion management, it is imperative to manage concussions on an individualized basis. Implementation of baseline testing and/or post-concussion neurocognitive testing should be done whenever possible. Neurocognitive testing has been referred to as the "cornerstone" of proper concussion management by an international panel of sports medicine experts.
The Sports Medicine specialists at Upper Bucks Orthopaedics are trained in diagnosing, evaluating and managing sports-related concussions. John Minnich, MD is a Credentialed ImPACT (Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing, the first, most-widely used, and most scientifically validated computerized concussion evaluation system) Consultant. ImPACT was developed to provide useful information to assist qualified practitioners in making sound return to play decisions following concussions.
Signs and Symptoms of a Concussion
- Balance problems
- Trouble falling asleep
- Sleeping more than usual
- Sensitivity to light
- Sensitivity to noise
- Feeling more emotional
- Numbness or tingling
- Feeling mentally foggy
- Difficulty communicating
- Difficulty concentrating
- Difficulty remembering
- Visual problems (double or blurry vision)