Tiffany Williams MSA, SCAT, ATC
As the weather gets warmer and children begin spring sports, keeping athletes safe is the top priority of athletic trainers. One of the most common injuries for young athletes is a concussion. A concussion is a traumatic brain injury caused by a blow, bump or hit to the head where the brain moves around and bounces inside the skull.
Some athletes may immediately report or show signs of a concussion; however, it may take a few minutes to hours for an athlete to see or feel the effects. These are some of the most common signs and symptoms, but every athlete reacts differently:
- Appears dazed or confused
- Dizziness or balance problems
- Nauseous or vomiting
- Blurry or double vision
- Confused, difficulty concentrating
- Unable to recall events before or after impact
- Light or noise sensitivity
- Feel sluggish, groggy, extra fatigued
In some cases, there may be more serious signs that require immediate medical attention. If you notice these signs or symptoms, call 911 immediately!
- Loss of consciousness
- Inability to wake up after falling asleep
- Slurred speech
- Numbness or tingling
- Repeated vomiting
If you suspect your child has a concussion, he/she should immediately be removed from play. A health care professional, such as a pediatrician, school nurse, athletic trainer, or concussion specialist should be contacted to help the athlete monitor symptoms. During the recovery period, athletes may need to adjust how they participate in classes and activities until they recover. They should take some time to disconnect from screens (cell phones, computers, video games, etc.). Your brain needs rest to recover!
Once an athlete is symptom free, he/she may return to sports with a clearance note from a health care provider, along with completing a return to play protocol. This protocol helps protect the athlete's return to sports in a safe and gradual manner over several days.
The Palmetto Health-USC Orthopedic Center sports medicine team serves as the official team physicians for the University of South Carolina Athletics, the Columbia Fireflies and dozens of other professional, university/college, high schools, middle schools and recreational teams throughout South Carolina. In addition, we supervise one of the largest athletic trainer outreach programs in South Carolina. Our physicians and a team of athletic trainers serve 34 high schools and seven colleges on the sidelines to prevent, diagnose and treat injuries.
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