NOTE: If you think you have experienced a concussion, contact your Licensed Health Care Provider (LHCP) for medical care immediately.
A concussion is a “traumatic brain injury” caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head which changes how your brain normally functions. Concussions may also occur from a blow to the body that causes the head to move rapidly back and forth and can occur without a loss of consciousness. (adapted from Centers for Disease Control)
Terms generally used in reference to concussions are “knocked out”, “ding”, “got your bell rung”, “seeing stars”, “dazed”, and “head injury” to name just a few.
A Licensed Health Care Provider (LHCP) is an individual who has successfully completed a professional program of study in a variety of health fields and who has obtained a license or certificate indicating his or her ability to practice in that field.
Return to Learn and Return to Play
After Peoria Notre Dame High School football player Benjamin Bloomfield took a particularly bad hit on the field, he was feeling "off." Luckily, his dad knew the symptoms of concussion and took him to see his doctor.
Thanks to the Return to Learn and Return to Play programs at OSF HealthCare Illinois Neurological Institute, Benjamin is back on the football field.
There are many ways you can lower your risk of a concussion. Always check with your LHCP and follow his/her recommendations. Although you may take all the correct steps, a concussion may still occur.
- Wear a seat belt every time you ride in a motor vehicle
- Never operate machinery while under the influence of alcohol or drugs
Always wear a helmet when:
- Riding a bike, motorcycle, snowmobile, scooter or all-terrain vehicle
- Using in-line skates or skateboard
- Playing contact sports such as football, hockey or boxing
- Playing baseball or softball
- Riding a horse
- Skiing or snowboarding
Children Seniors Safely buckle your child in the correct car seat, booster seat or seat belt for his/her height, weight and age Improve lighting in the home and remove tripping hazards (throw rugs, clutter). Install window guards to prevent falls from open windows Use nonslip mats in the bathtub and on shower floors Use safety gates at the top and bottom of stairs Install grab bars in bathrooms and handrails in stairways Ensure playground surfaces are made of shock-absorbing material, such as wood chips or sand Maintain a regular physical activity program if your doctor approves
- Recognize symptoms of a concussion and develop a concussion action plan
- If concussion is suspected, do not allow athlete to return to play until evaluated and cleared by a LHCP.
- Follow proper techniques, good sportsmanship, and rules of the game.
- Ensure equipment fits properly, is used correctly, and meets manufacturer standards to help reduce concussion risk.
Signs and symptoms of concussion for all ages typically fall into four categories:
Physical Cognitive Emotional Sleep Headache Feeling mentally "foggy" Irritability Drowsiness Nausea Feeling slowed down Sadness Sleeping less than usual Vomiting Difficulty concentrating More emotional than usual Sleeping more than usual Balance problems Difficulty remembering More nervous than usual Trouble falling asleep Dizziness Forgetful of recent information or conversations Visual problems Confused about recent events Fatigue Answers questions slowly Sensitivity to light Repeats questions Sensitivity to noise Numbness/tingling Dazed or stunned
Signs and Symptoms of Concussion
Signs and Symptoms in Infant, Toddlers, and Preschool Children. Younger children may show signs of concussion in the following ways:
- Crying and inability to be consoled
- Restlessness and/or irritability
- Dizziness or confusion
- Change in personality
If any of these signs continue or develop in your child, seek medical care from a Licensed Health Care Provider(LHCP).
- Excessive crying or continued crying without stopping
- Persistent headache
- Change in sleep patterns
- Change in breastfeeding or eating habits
- Becoming upset easily or increased temper tantrums
- Sad or lethargic mood
- Lack of interest in favorite toys
Seek immediate medical attention if symptoms worsen, such as:
- Headaches that worsen
- Looks very drowsy or can’t be awakened
- Repeated vomiting
- Slurred speech
- Can’t recognize people or places
- Increasing confusion or irritability
- Weakness or numbness in arms or legs
- Neck pain
- Unusual behavior change
- Significant irritability
- Any loss of consciousness.
If you have any questions, call the OSF Call Center at 1-888-6-ASKOSF.
NOTE: Immediately remove an athlete from play, or child/adult from routine activities, if concussion is suspected—Reinforce rest following a concussion. Remember, concussion is a brain injury.
If you suspect a concussion, contact a LCHP for diagnosis and treatment. Your LHCP may take a health history and do a physical exam. In some cases, additional testing may be needed. Treatment will be determined by your LHCP and may include limiting cognitive (thinking and learning) physical (exercise) activity as well as stress. This may include limitations on return to school or work for a period of time.
It is important to seek medical help if you think you have experienced a concussion as delaying necessary treatment could lead to serious complications and even death.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How can I recognize a possible concussion?
Watch for the following:
- A forceful bump, blow, or jolt to the head or body that results in rapid movement of the head
- Any change in your behavior, thinking, or physical functioning. Concussion in sports
Do concussions always involve a loss of consciousness?
- No. A concussion typically involves at least a change or alteration of consciousness of some sort, but an actual loss of consciousness is not required for the diagnosis of concussion. Think Head First
What should I do if a concussion occurs?
- If you think you have experienced a concussion, contact your LHCP for medical care immediately see Treatment Options for more details.
What is a concussion action plan for athletes?
This plan ensures that concussions are identified early and managed correctly. The 4 steps involved include:
- Remove athlete from play – look for signs and symptoms of a concussion if your athlete has experienced a bump or blow to the head or body. When in doubt, keep the athlete out of play.
- Ensure that the athlete is evaluated by a LHCP experienced in evaluating for concussion – do not try to judge the severity of the injury yourself. LHCPs have a number of methods that they can use to decide how serious a concussion is. As a coach, recording the following information can help LHCPs in assessing the athlete after the injury:
- Cause of the injury and force of the hit or blow to the head or body
- Any loss of consciousness (passed out/knocked out) and if so, for how long
- Any memory loss immediately following the injury
- Any seizures immediately following the injury
- Number of previous concussions (if any)
- Inform the athlete’s parents or guardians about the possible concussion – make sure they know that the athlete should be seen by a LHCP experienced in evaluating for concussion.
- Keep the athlete out of play the day of the injury and until a LHCP, experienced in evaluating for concussion, says they are symptom-free and it’s okay to return to play A “heads up” on managing return to play
How long does it take to recover from the effects of a concussion?
- Many factors influence the course of recovery from a concussion, including the severity of the concussion, previous history of concussion, physical injury/pain symptoms, and personal history, and so the length of recovery will differ among individuals. Think Head First
What can I do to help with my recovery?
- The best thing for you to do is follow the instructions from your LHCP. If you still have questions, contact your LHCP for further information.
Can concussions be prevented?
- Concussions cannot be 100% prevented. However, there are things you can do to lower your risk of a concussion. Ensure equipment fits properly, is used correctly, and meets manufacturer standards to help reduce concussion risk. Follow proper techniques, good sportsmanship, and rules of the game. See Prevention for more details.
Should better athletes just “play through” their concussions?
- No. A concussion is a mild brain injury and should be taken seriously. Therefore, symptoms following a concussion should not be viewed as a result of physical or emotional weakness that could be overcome by merely “toughing it out”. Regardless of skill, all concussions should be treated the same. Think Head First
Are there any products that will completely prevent a concussion?
- Ensure equipment fits properly, is used correctly, and meets manufacturer standards to help reduce concussion risk. Talk with your LHCP about any specific product that is available on the market.