Athletics



Athletic Training Minutes: Concussions and Impact Testing

Athletic Training Minute: Concussions and Impact Testing

In the next couple weeks, your student athlete maybe asked to take the ImPACT concussion test online. At Concordia we do ImPACT baseline concussion testing on our student athletes to measure how the brain is functioning when not injured. The test assesses reaction time, memory, and processing speed. When an injury occurs, this baseline can be used to determine the extent of the injury to assist with determining when the athlete is back to normal cognitive functioning and able to return to athletic competition. Below is information about concussion sign and symptoms. Concordia’s Athletic trainer is an ImPACT Trained Athletic Trainer and able to evaluate and treat concussions.

 

What is a concussion and how would I recognize one?

A concussion is a mild traumatic brain injury, which results in a temporary disruption of normal brain function and may cause immediate, short-term or long-term impairment of neurological function. A concussion can be caused by a bump, blow or jolt to the head or body, that may or may not result in loss of consciousness. A student athlete does not have to lose consciousness (“knocked-out”) to suffer a concussion. A second concussion that occurs before the brain recovers from the first can slow recovery or increase the chances of long-term problems. In rare cases, brain swelling can result leading to permanent brain damage or even death (Second Impact Syndrome).

A concussion may cause multiple symptoms. Signs and symptoms of a concussion may not be present immediately after the injury but may develop over the next several days or weeks. The symptoms may be subtle. Signs and symptoms must be taken seriously and accurately reported by the student athlete. If your child reports any symptoms of concussion or if you notice some symptoms and signs, seek medical evaluation from the athletic trainer. If your child is vomiting, has a severe headache, or is having difficulty staying awake or answering simple questions, take him or her immediately to the emergency department of your local hospital.

 

What can happen if my child keeps playing with concussion symptoms or returns too soon after getting a concussion?

Student athletes with the signs and symptoms of concussion should be removed from play immediately. There is NO same day return to play for a youth with a suspected concussion. Youth athletes may take more time to recover from a concussion and are more prone to long-term serious problems from a concussion.

Even though a traditional brain scan (e.g., MRI or CT) may be “normal”, the brain may still have been injured. Research studies show that a second blow before the brain has recovered can result in serious damage.  If your student athlete suffers another concussion before completely recovering from the first one, this can lead to prolonged recovery (weeks to months), or even to severe brain swelling (Second Impact Syndrome) with devastating consequences.

 

Signs that may be observed by teammates, parents and coaches include:                                                                                      

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Looks dizzy

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Slurred speech

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Looks spaced out

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Shows a change in personality or way of acting

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Confused about plays

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Can’t recall events before or after the injury

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Forgets plays

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Seizures or has a fit

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Is unsure of game, score, or opponent

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Any change in typical behavior or personality

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Moves clumsily or awkwardly

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Passes out

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Answers questions slowly

 

Symptoms may include one or more of the following:                                                                                                               

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Headaches

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Loss of memory

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“Pressure in head”

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“Don’t feel right”

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Nausea or throws up

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Tired or low energy

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Neck pain

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Sadness

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Has trouble standing or walking

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Nervousness or feeling on edge

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Blurred, double, or fuzzy vision

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Irritability

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Bothered by light or noise

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More emotional

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Feeling sluggish or slowed down

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Confused

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Feeling foggy or groggy

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Concentration or memory problems

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Drowsiness

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Repeating the same question/comment

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Change in sleep patterns

                    

  Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing

To assist in identifying possible concussions, and preventing premature return to play, the athletic trainer utilizes a program called ImPACT (Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing) to gather baseline information.  ImPACT is a computerized test that takes about 25 minutes to complete. ImPACT recommends that it be administered by an ImPACT trained athletic trainer, school nurse, athletic director. If a concussion is suspected, the baseline report will serve as a comparison to post-injury ImPACT tests, which licensed healthcare providers can use to assess potential changes or damage caused by a concussion.

The program measures multiple aspects of cognitive functioning in athletes, including:

·       Attention span

·       Sustained and selective attention time

·       Non-verbal problem solving

·       Working memory

·       Response variability

·       Reaction time

 

What is Return to Learn?

Following a concussion, student athletes may have difficulties with short- and long-term memory, concentration and organization. They will require rest of the brain, while recovering from injury (e.g., avoid reading, texting, video games, television), and may even need to stay home from school for a few days.  As they return to school, the schedule might need to start with a few classes or a half-day, depending on how they feel. If recovery from a concussion is taking longer than expected, he or she may also benefit from a reduced class schedule and/or limited homework.  In some cases, a formal school assessment may also be necessary. The school nurse, athletic trainer and/or counselors can help suggest and make these changes. Student athletes should complete the Return to Learn process first before beginning any sports or physical activities.

 

How is Return to Play (RTP) determined?

Concussion symptoms should be completely gone before returning to competition. A RTP progression involves a gradual, step-wise increase in physical effort, sports-specific activities and the risk for contact. If symptoms occur with activity, the progression should be stopped. If there are no symptoms the next day, exercise can be restarted at the previous stage.

 

RTP after concussion should occur only with clearance from the athletic trainer who is trained in the evaluation and management of concussions, and a step-wise progression program monitored by the athletic trainer.

 

Final Thoughts for Parents and Guardians:

It is well known that high school athletes will often not talk about signs of concussions, which is why this information is so important to review with them.  Teach your child to tell the coaching and athletic training staff if he or she experiences such symptoms. You should also feel comfortable talking to the coaches or athletic trainer about possible concussion signs and symptoms that you may be seeing in your child.