Traumatic Brain
Injury and Concussions

Approximately 1.6-3.8 million sports and recreation related concussions occur in the United States each year.

Basically, anyone who suffers from a concussion has traumatically induced physiological brain function disruption manifested in loss of consciousness, often followed by confusion and/or disorientation. Memory loss accompanies this condition as a rule.

The definition of a concussion is described as a head trauma induced alteration in mental status that may or may not involve loss of consciousness. Concussions and head injuries (closed head injuries) may or may not be transient.

Potential Symptoms

Physical

Headache

Dizziness

Sleep Disturbances

Vision blurring

Light and sound sensitivity

Tinnitus- Ringing in ears

Fatigue

Emotional

Anxiety

Irritibility

Depression

Mood lability

Cognitive

Short term memory problems

Impaired focus and concentration

Periods of Confusion


Head injuries can be caused by sports, accidents, errors in judgment, as well as many other countless daily activities. Often these injuries are caused by a blow to the head or a severe whiplash brought on by a sudden acceleration or deceleration of the body pushing the brain, which floats in cerebral spinal fluid that doesn’t typically come in contact with the skull, into the skull’s encasement often causing fiber and nerve cell damage. Research shows that a brain concussion is a cumulative injury; a second impact to the brain can prove life-threatening.

Second Impact Syndrome

3.6 million people sustain a Traumatic Brain Injury or concussion annually
50,000 die
275,000 are hospitalized
1.365 million nearly 80% are treated and releases from an emergency department

Research and Clinical Studies indicate head injuries in the United States are grossly underestimated. The reason so many injuries go unreported is because parents, trainers, physicians and even an injured person does not always recognize signs of a concussive injury. Four out of Five professional football players with concussion were unaware they had suffered this injury. With more severe concussion, post traumatic amnesia (PTA) and confusion result. Duration of a PTA is directly proportional to the severity of the head injury damage. The client, often has a headache and dizziness or vertigo that may last for a few minutes or several hours. Although some patients may be ataxic immediately after the injury, there are generally no focal neurologic deficits.

Second Impact Syndrome

An athlete who is recovering from a concussion, but who has not yet fully recovered, is at risk for second impact syndrome (SIS).

Typically, the athlete suffers post-concussion symptoms after the first head injury, such as headache, visual, motor or sensory changes or mental difficulty, especially with the thought and memory process. Before these symptoms have cleared, which may take minutes, hours, days or weeks, the athlete returns to competition and receives a second blow to the head, which can cause massive swelling in the brain. Since the brain is contained inside the rigid bone of the skull, this swelling causes compression of the brain. In severe cases, the brain is squeezed through small holes within the skull.  This squeezing of the brain through these small holes is known as “herniation.” Herniation can lead to decreased blood flow to the brain.

Sudden onset

The second blow may be unremarkable, perhaps only involving a blow to the chest that jerks the athlete’s head and indirectly sends accelerating forces to the brain. Affected athletes may appear stunned, but do not suffer loss of consciousness (LOC) and often complete the play. They usually remain alert on their feet for 15 seconds to 1 minute or so but seem dazed. Often, affected athletes remain on the playing field or walk off under their own power. Usually within seconds to minutes of the second impact, the athlete – conscious but stunned – suddenly collapses to the ground, semi-conscious with rapidly dilating (widening) pupils and loss of eye movement, and stops breathing.

All young athletes

All Young Athletes – Male and Female – Susceptible

Concussion experts agree that, in general, the younger the athlete, the longer it takes for the symptoms of a concussive event to clear. The brains of young athletes are still developing, making them particularly susceptible to catastrophic injury if the brain has not healed before a second blow to the head.  Research indicates that the vast majority of the victims of Second Impact Syndrome (95% by some estimates) are under the age of eighteen, almost all of them males.

In case of young athletes

Watch for Specific Head Injury Symptoms, such as:

According to the United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are a number of symptoms a parent or coach should watch for in an athlete or child, including:

Appears dazed or stunned

Confused about assignment

Nausea

Balance problems or dizziness

Forgets plays

Unsure of game, score or opponent

Double or fuzzy vision

Sensitivity to light or noise

Moves clumsily

Answers questions slowly

Feeling Sluggish or groggy

Concentration or memory problems

Loses Consciousness

Can’t recall events prior to hit or after

Confusion