Concussions: What to Know

Posted on 10/10/2017 at 11:03 AM by Sarah Bancroft, DO

Sarah Bancroft, DO
Family Medicine
Sports Medicine

Sports Related Concussions are a type of short term traumatic brain injury, most of the time caused by a direct blow to the head or neck. This results in a fast onset of symptoms that may go away quickly, or more slowly over weeks.

Concussion Symptoms

The most common symptoms are: Headache, vision changes, nausea, and change in awareness. These symptoms usually don’t represent a brain bleed--they’re just symptoms that affect everyday activities in some way. However if symptoms are severe or worsening, you should always go to the emergency department right away to be examined.

What Sports Have the Most Risk for Concussion?

Many people have asked me what the riskiest sports for concussion are. Research shows that football, ice hockey, soccer, lacrosse, cheerleading are at the top of the list--but any athlete can sustain a head injury.

What Should You Do if You Have a Concussion?

So what should you do if you have a concussion or think you may have a concussion because of symptoms that you’re experiencing? No athlete should ever continue playing their sports if they have sustained an injury causing symptoms of a concussion, until they have been cleared by a trained medical professional.

Athletes will often have access to an athletic trainer at their school who is trained in evaluating symptoms of head injury, so we recommend meeting with them right away for a first evaluation if possible. If you don’t have access to an athletic trainer, the McFarland Sports Medicine office is happy to schedule an appointment for evaluation as soon as possible.

When an athlete is being evaluated, a healthcare provider will take a detailed history of what happened to you and what symptoms you’re having. We’ll also do a detailed exam including some brain tests and balance tests, as well as a general physical exam to get a baseline of results.

After your assessment, the provider will review information about concussions to help you understand what to expect and things to watch out for at home. We want to answer all of the questions that you might have right away so you’re comfortable with your care.

Concussion Resources

For sports related concussions, there are some excellent resources we use as concussion specialists including the Berlin International Sports Concussion Guidelines that were published April 2017. These guidelines have been around since 2000, and they’re currently on their fifth edition, so they are compiled from all of the research we have on sports related concussions to date. Also the “Heads Up” campaign at the website has resources for healthcare providers, coaches, parents, and athletes.

Healing from a Concussion

As concussion specialists, we’ll help guide you through the brain healing process necessary after concussion and do close follow-up so we can help with therapy, school accommodations, medications, or anything else that may be needed.

Return-to-Play After a Concussion

After an athlete has been symptom free for at least 24 hours--including being in school full time, on no medications related to concussion, and in all of their everyday activities--the athletic trainer will start return-to-play with the athlete. Return-to-play takes a minimum of 5 to 7 days, and in younger athletes the consensus guidelines recommend a longer time line. We recommend that all athletes are seen within 3 to 5 days of their initial injury, and every 7 to 10 days thereafter for follow up. Research shows that athletes who get early physician access can have quicker recovery if intervention is needed.

Contact McFarland Sports Medicine

McFarland Sports Medicine wants to be accessible to you as our patients, so please don’t hesitate to call or go online to schedule an appointment with us.

Sports Medicine Primary Care
Drs. Bancroft and Shulman
1215 Duff Avenue, Ames, Iowa

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