Though many people think that a concussion is always accompanied by loss of consciousness, many people suffering direct or indirect brain trauma develop this type of brain bruising without ever losing consciousness. Some of the following may be better indicators that a concussion has occurred:
- Slurred Speech
- Vision difficulties
- Loss of bladder control
- Inability to focus
Because no definitive tests are available to diagnose a concussion, the condition sometimes goes unrecognized, particularly among athletes involved in contact sports. This suggests that coaches and trainers in all sports should receive specialized training in the recognition of the symptoms of concussion.
Mechanism of Injury
A concussion is caused by the brain’s rapid acceleration within the cerebrospinal fluid that fills the cavity of the skull, and it can occur despite the presence of a helmet for protection. It can happen without any loss of blood and with no evidence on the outer surface of the skin that damage has transpired. However, a concussion results in injured brain cells that require time for healing. If the same cells are affected a second time by a direct or indirect trauma to the head, they may be rendered completely useless in the future.
Over time, the difficulty in diagnosing concussion has become problematic. Medical research shows that the effect of these injuries on the brain is compounded by each successive injury. Years ago, players in most sports were allowed to return to play in just fifteen minutes after receiving a significant knock to the head. Because science has shown that a second or third such blow within a short time frame can have devastating results, it is now recommended that players who receive any type of trauma to the head wait for at least a week before resuming play.
Asking Athletes to Stay Out of the Game
The problem with asking players to sit out is that athletes are trained to be tough, to do their part, to shake off an injury and get back into the game as quickly as possible. While this may be a macho response to a blow to the head, it is not a medically sound decision.
The death of brain cells from multiple concussions can cause a variety of outcomes. The most serious of these is death, but other lasting effects include greater learning difficulties, persistent headaches, tremors, seizures, and dementia.
Ignoring a concussion because of a desire to get back into the game may be the worse decision a player ever makes, and some players are too young to make it. This leaves the ultimate responsibility for protecting players from the long-term effects of concussion up to the athletic associations, coaches and trainers.
If your child sustained a serious injury after being put back into play too soon after a head injury, contact our office for a free consultation and evaluation. We can help you decide if you should file suit against those responsible for your child’s injuries.