A concussion is an injury to the brain that commonly occurs in sports. There are an estimated three to four million sport-related concussions that occur in athletes each year. Concussions can occur from a direct blow to the head or a blow to somewhere else on the body that produces a jerking motion of the head. Most concussions do not result in being knocked out or losing consciousness.

Common symptoms of a concussion include headache, fatigue, dizziness, confusion, sensitivity to bright lights or loud sounds, difficulty with concentration or memory, feeling sick to your stomach and emesis (throwing up). Athletes may experience one or more symptoms. If an athlete experiences any of these symptoms after a head injury, it should be assumed that the athlete has had a concussion.

An athlete who sustains a concussion should not be allowed to return to play or resume activity on the day of their concussion. An athlete should not return to sports until evaluated by a medical professional who is experienced in concussion management, and determines the athlete to be free of symptoms both at rest and with activity. An athlete who is still having symptoms has not cleared their concussion.

The treatment for a concussion is rest, both from physical activity and cognitive (thinking) activity. Children and teenagers may benefit from being kept home from school. No exercise should be started until the athlete is symptom free. It is also recommended that the athlete avoid computer use, video game playing and texting. Athletes with concussions should allow extra time to complete school work, particularly math, science and foreign language.

Athletes typically are evaluated by a medical professional who will take a thorough history of the concussion and any prior head injuries. A physical examination, including a neurological examination, is performed. Memory and cognitive tests may also be performed. Some athletes are asked to complete a computerized neuropsychological test that takes about 20 minutes to complete to see how their brain is functioning. Imaging of the head, including CT (CAT) scans and MRIs, are generally normal with a concussion.

Baseline computerized neuropsychological testing is available at the Chesterfield Outpatient Orthopedic Center, which allows the athlete to have a record to use for comparison if they sustain a concussion in the future. To schedule an appointment, please call (314) 514-3500 or request an appointment online.

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