How do you know if you have a Concussion?

By Tracy Wilcox, PTA, ATC

How do you know if you have a Concussion?

When a concussion is suspected, a certified athletic trainer or the team physician should immediately perform an initial “sideline” evaluation, including:

  • Symptoms list review.
  • Neurological exam.
  • The exam tests short-term memory recall, such as the event, play, opponent, score, or last meal.
  • The exam tests long-term recall such as name, birth date, place of birth.
  • Assessment of an athlete’s ability to perform a complex task such as reciting months backward.
image of brain concussion

Image of a concussion.

Why is it important to know if you have a Concussion?

If left undiagnosed, a concussion may place an athlete at risk of developing second impact syndrome. – a potentially fatal injury occurs when an athlete sustains a second head injury before a previous head injury has completely healed.

Baseline testing collects data on an athlete’s cognitive and physical abilities before suffering the concussion.  Baseline testing can include a neurocognitive evaluation (usually by computer) that tests multiple brain function areas, including memory, problem-solving, reaction times, and brain processing speeds. Symptom checklists, sideline assessment tools such as the Sideline Concussion Assessment Tool (SCAT),  and balance testing are other examples of baseline evaluations that may help.

image of pain in neck caused by concussion

Image of the Head and Neck.

What are the Symptoms of a Concussion?

Concussion symptoms include the following:

  • Balance problems.
  • Difficulty communicating, concentrating.
  • Dizziness.
  • Drowsiness.
  • Fatigue.
  • Feeling emotional.
  • Feeling mentally foggy.
  • Headache.
  • Irritability.
  • Memory difficulties.
  • Nausea.
  • Nervousness.
  • Numbness or tingling.
  • Sadness.
  • Sensitivity to light or noise.
  • Sleeping more than usual or difficulty falling asleep.
  • Visual problems: blurry or double vision.
  • Vomiting.

When is it safe to return to play after a Concussion?

All athletes who sustain a concussion—no matter how minor—should undergo an evaluation by a qualified healthcare provider before returning to play. Athletes can return to play completely free of all concussion symptoms and remain symptom-free during and after physical testing. Unfortunately, it is difficult to determine if the brain has healed from a concussion; even after all symptoms have resolved, healing may not be complete. Neurocognitive testing can be a beneficial tool in determining brain function. Compared to a baseline test, this evaluation can be used in conjunction with a physician’s examination to reduce future risks.

For physical therapy after a concussion, please call 904-858-7045.

If you or your young athlete has experienced a concussion, schedule an appointment with Dr. Yorio for a safe return to play program.

JOI Fracture and Injury Care

JOI Physicians are currently offering ASAP fracture and injury care. This is a new option for patients who would like to avoid the emergency room if they have suffered a fracture or soft tissue injury. To learn more about this service, read this article about fracture and injury care. Make an appointment by calling (904)JOI-2000.

By: Tracy Wilcox, PTA, ATC

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