What exactly is a sports-related concussion?
A concussion is an injury to your brain that temporarily affects your thinking and awareness. You may be knocked out or may feel confused.
A sports-related concussion occurs when engaging in sports, such as hitting your head from playing football.
Almost one in five athletes playing contact sports have a concussion during the season.
What are the symptoms of a sports-related concussion?
While you may be unconscious for a little while, usually for less than 15 minutes, you don't have to be knocked out to have a concussion.
Other symptoms of sports concussion include confusion, including being dazed or stunned, being unsure of the score or what team you're playing, or answering questions slowly; memory loss, such as not knowing team plays or not remembering what happened before or after the injury; double vision and sensitivity to light; being clumsy; headache and feeling dizzy; and poor balance.
If you have more than one sports-related concussion, even minor ones, you can have a long-term brain injury called CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy).
How can doctors tell if I have a sports concussion?
If you had a head injury while playing sports, a doctor will ask you questions and do a physical exam to see whether all the parts of your brain are working right. If you don't come back to normal within a few minutes or were unconscious for a long time, the doctor will usually send you to a hospital for a CT scan of your head to ensure your brain isn't bleeding or bruised. It's good to see a doctor who has experience with sports-related concussions.
How do doctors treat a sports-related concussion?
Your doctor will ask you to rest; stop activities that may excite your brain, for example using computers, playing video games and watching TV; and return to the hospital if your symptoms get worse. Before you can return to your sport, your doctor may ask you to start with easy exercises and slowly work your way through drills. You shouldn't start playing again until your symptoms are gone and your doctor clears you to play.
How can I prevent future sports-related concussions?
Wear any helmets recommended for your sport.
Don't play contact sports until your doctor says your head injury has completely healed.
Start gradually as you return to your sport.
Concussions can happen in any sport but are more likely in sports that have high-speed collisions such as football, rugby, ice hockey, and lacrosse.
Some athletes undergo neurocognitive testing (testing of certain brain functions) before sports participation.
If a concussion is suspected, doctors can retest the athlete and find out if brain problems have developed.
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