Jul 20, 2009
With this issue's emphasis on off-season training and repetitive motion issues, it's also important to emphasize the dangers of repetitive head injuries. In the April issue of VYPE, we focused on concussion symptoms and treatments. As you are doing your off-season training and starting to practice for fall sports, it's time to take a look at the very serious effects of second-impact syndrome (SIS).
Concussions are very common sports injuries. Chances are you probably know someone who suffered a concussion during a game or practice. Headaches, loss of consciousness, dizziness, confusion, fatigue, nausea, blurred vision and saying things that don't make sense are a few of the symptoms associated with concussions. The healing process can take anywhere from a day to several months, depending on the severity of the concussion and how long symptoms persist.
It's tough to stay on the sidelines, but a physician must determine you are symptom-free before you can return to practice or play. If you sustain a second head injury before you are symptom-free, you could face SIS.
SIS occurs when the brain swells very suddenly. Though it is somewhat rare, it is almost always fatal. Even a mild injury, such as a shove from behind that jerks your head, before you are free of concussion symptoms, can quickly become SIS.
An athlete who suffers the sudden onset of SIS might seem stunned after a tackle or blow. He may even shake it off and continue to play for up to a minute or so. What happens next is quite frightening. The athlete will collapse, his eyes will stop moving, his pupils will dilate, and he will stop breathing.
While SIS is the most feared event, the most common problem we see is prolonged recovery for the athlete who returns to play too soon. Even a mild injury during the recovery phase of a concussion can prolong symptoms and seriously compromise the athlete's ability to perform normal activities. The brain needs time to heal!
See your school's athletic trainer for information about a baseline concussion screening. Pre-concussion screening for high-risk athletes and high-risk sports is being conducted at all the local high schools. There are various screening tests available. They involve taking a personal concussion history and often technology to measure normal brain activity so it can be compared to tests performed on an athlete, who is suspected of having a concussion. Area medical groups and schools are working on a collaborative effort to use uniform testing and evaluation methods to offer the best care available.
There are many disorders that have symptoms similar to concussion. This is called differential diagnosis. The differential diagnosis for concussion symptoms might include infections of the nervous system, drug effects, aneurysms, brain injuries (such as bleeds or strokes), complicated migraines, seizures and emotional or mood disorders. That is why concussion diagnosis and recovery take a team approach. Physician specialists, nurses, coaches, trainers, parents, therapists and players are all important members of that team. When it comes to concussion, listen to your team. They are on your side to ensure your safe recovery.
This article originally appeared in the July issue of VYPE High School Sports Magazine. For more information, visit VYPE.com/raleighdurham.
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