A concussion is the most common form of head injury suffered by athletes. It is a form of traumatic brain injury that occurs when the brain is violently jarred back and forth or rotated inside the skull as a result of a blow to the head or body. This can "stun" the brain cells or even result in their death. You do not need to lose consciousness to suffer a concussion. Any athlete in motion is at risk for a concussion. This may occur in any sport, to boys and girls alike. Symptoms may appear immediately or develop over several days. They may last a few days to several months and interfere with schoolwork and social life.

A Post-Concussive Syndrome is the consequence of previous head injury. This term now is being used to identify concussed patients who are not improving as expected. Post-Concussive Syndrome does not appear to be associated with the severity of a single concussion, but more likely the location of the brain injury. It is generally defined as the development of at least three of the following symptoms persisting at least 4-6 weeks: headache, dizziness, fatigue, irritability, social difficulties, anxiety, insomnia, concentration or memory difficulty and intolerance of stress. Anyone displaying these symptoms requires thorough physical and neurological examinations by a medical specialist. Individuals with a history of attention-deficit/hyperactive disorder, learning disability, migraine headaches or psychiatric conditions may increase the likelihood of experiencing Post-Concussive Syndrome. Also, children are at greater risk to exhibit symptoms.

Second Impact Syndrome occurs when a second concussion is sustained while an athlete is still recovering from a first concussion, during which time the brain is still injured not able to protect the brain to the best of its ability. This can be catastrophic, even leading to death.

A Baseline Test assesses the student athlete’s balance and brain function. It is an important evaluative tool that focuses on balance, concentration and memory assessments. Ideally, this assessment should occur annually prior to the first practice of the season or at the beginning of the school year. If a concussion is suspected, results from the original baseline test are compared to a follow up exam to help determine if the athlete’s brain function has been impacted. Baseline tests also aid physicians in making decisions regarding return to school and play.

Quick Facts

1. Always remove athlete immediately after suspecting a concussion. Do NOT allow return to play the same day with a concussion.

2. Athletes do NOT have to be knocked out to have a concussion. 90% of concussions occur without a loss of consciousness.

3. CT scans don’t diagnose concussions. Everyone with a concussion has a normal CT scan.

4. It is OK to let someone fall asleep after being hit in the head. With careful monitoring, rest and sleep will be helpful.

5. “Warm Up for Return” is a graded process that requires a minimum of five days.

6. 9 out of 10 athletes will be back to normal within two weeks. They may miss a few games.

7. Kansas law requires a physician’s signature (MD/DO) to "Return to Play."

8. Athletes who return to full contact too early risks Second Impact Syndrome, a rare but devastating brain injury that may result in death.

9. Concussions can affect driving, school work, sleep, emotions, relationships and self worth.

10. The “game plan” is not just about returning an athlete to their sport, it is about returning the person back to their life.