As the new Ohio law for concussion care and return to play goes into full effect this fall sports season, it has certainly raised awareness and increased discussions on many levels from athletes, parents, coaches, physicians, athletic trainers, school administrators, attorneys and now legislators.
Concussions in the past have unfortunately always been part of collision sports like football, soccer, and hockey. Until the relatively recent NFL national attention, concussions were never really openly discussed. A concussion is a very tricky condition because it doesn’t always have obvious signs or symptoms like a sprained ankle or torn ACL. Those conditions people recognize and realize that you can’t always play through the injuries. But concussions are often hidden, sometimes purposely, by athletes that don’t want to risk losing the respect of their teammates and coaches, their playing time or position.
The incidence – or at least the identification of concussions – has exploded in the last several years, by one national study stating in high school football alone, the incidence of concussions has risen by 61 percent to greater than 140,000 concussions during the 2011–2012 school year.
Mark Hudak, MD, our concussion management specialist and sports medicine medical director, says:
Concussions are a very serious potentially life altering, life ending condition. When an athlete is not fully recovered from an initial concussion, they are at greater risk for recurrent, cumulative consequences of a second concussive injury.
It starts with the athlete and parent recognizing and acknowledging the signs and symptoms and admitting that an issue exists. Then the resulting chain of persons such as coaches, physicians and school personnel can begin addressing the short term and long term care that allows the athlete to return to school and play healthy and safely.
Signs and Symptoms of a Concussion
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
• Difficulty remembering or paying attention
• Balance problems or dizziness
• Feeling sluggish, hazy, foggy or groggy
• Feeling irritable, more emotional or down
• Nausea or vomiting
• Bothered by light or noise
• Double or blurry vision
• Slowed reaction time
• Sleep problems
• Loss of consciousness
Mark J. Hudak, M.D., is medical director of Mercy Sports Medicine and a concussion management specialist. His office is located at Mercy Health Center of Plain. If you suspect your child has suffered a concussion, Dr. Hudak can help diagnose, treat and manage the concussion for safe return to play. For an appointment, call 330-588-4884.