Now that many schools are in full-swing, so are all of the after-school sports, and with those sports comes the possibility of concussions. According to dosomething.org, in the United States, athletes suffer from roughly 300,000 concussions every year.

A concussion is a mild traumatic brain injury (TBI). It can occur after an impact to your head or after a whiplash-type injury that causes your head and brain to shake quickly back and forth. A concussion results in an altered mental state that may include becoming unconscious.

Anyone can become injured during a fall, car accident or any other daily activity. If you participate in impact sports such as football, boxing or hockey, you have an increased risk of getting a concussion. Concussions are usually not life-threatening, but they can cause serious symptoms that require medical treatment.

The topic of concussions has gained quite a bit of attention in recent years due to professional athletes retiring early as a result of repeated concussions that can cause a variety of neurological disorders, most notably, chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) which has been known to cause erratic behavior and even suicide.

The dangers of repeated concussions have long been known for boxers and wrestlers, a form of CTE common in these two sports, dementia pugilistica, was first described in 1928. An awareness of the risks of concussions in other sports began to grow in the 1990’s, and especially in the mid-2000’s, in both the medical and the sports communities, as a result of studies of the brains of prematurely deceased American football players, who showed extremely high incidence of CTE.

Symptoms of a concussion can vary depending on both the severity of the injury and the person injured. It’s not true that a loss of consciousness always occurs with a concussion. Some people do experience a loss of consciousness, but others don’t. The symptoms may begin immediately, or they may not develop for hours, days, weeks or even months following your injury.

Signs and Symptoms of concussion

Head trauma is very common in young children. Concussions can be difficult to recognize in infants and toddlers because they can’t describe how they feel.

Risk Factors

Diagnosis

Your doctor will evaluate your signs and symptoms, review your medical history and conduct a neurologic exam. As mentioned before, signs and symptoms of a concussion may not appear until hours or days after the injury. Here are a list of tests your doctor may perform or recommend:

Neurologic exam

Treatment

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