A concussion is a traumatic brain injury and should always be taken seriously. While in the past, athletes in particular would be encouraged to “walk it off,” current research demonstrates the dangers of this practice. As an athlete, individuals are dedicated to their sport and their team. It is important that we all understand that the best way to heal is to stop any time an individual suspects a concussion. Symptoms of this injury may include headache, changes in vision, dizziness, or loss of balance. Ringing in the ears as well as nausea and/or vomiting may be present. Athletes may note feeling confused or “foggy” as well as having difficulties concentrating. They may struggle to tolerate light and noise. The athlete or teammates may see that they are not behaving like their normal self. Whatever the symptom, it is vital that the athlete get immediate attention by telling a coach, athletic trainer, or parent or friend. An athlete may or may not lose consciousness to have suffered a significant injury. This should never be the determining symptom!
Following a concussion, it is important to obtain proper evaluation and treatment. Worsening symptoms or a change in consciousness level, talkativeness, or seizures should be immediately evaluated by the closest emergency room. Furthermore, it is vital after a concussion to REST! Individuals should stop any activity that results in an increase in symptoms and not engage in any high risk or impact activities. This includes tasks that require a high level of thinking or concentration. Finally, this is now the law for individuals under the age of 18. Utah HB-204 mandates that young athletes immediately be removed from play any time a concussion is suspected. They cannot return-to-play until they are medically cleared by a qualified health care provider. Protect your brain: it is the only one you get!