How to Recognize Concussions
Symptoms of a concussion may include confusion, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, headache, blurred or double vision, vacant stare, ringing in the ears, a funny taste in the mouth, poor coordination, loss of balance, sensitivity to light and noise, flashing lights, personality changes including emotional instability/behavior (anger, crying, and anxiety), feeling sluggish, slurred speech, or loss of memory. It is important to recognize that most athletes won't necessarily come up to you and complain of these symptoms, so a responsible coach has to always be on the lookout for abnormal behaviors. Watch out for the athlete who just sits and stares, seems to be a step behind where he or she usually is, blows a routine play, or "just doesn't look right" to you. If you are at all suspicious that an athlete may have a concussion, immediately test him or her using the pocket card on the back. If any of these symptoms are present, remove your athlete from competition or practice even if he or she becomes completely normal later in the practice or game. Symptoms can recur for days after the initial injury and are a sign that the brain has not healed enough to participate in any athletic activity. If you notice any of these post-concussion syndrome symptoms in your athlete, report it to the athletic trainer, a parent or guardian, and/or a physician. In their desire to play, many athletes try to hide or minimize injuries. Be aware of changes or concerns reported by teammates or teachers. Post-concussion syndrome often has long-term effects that interfere with functioning at home, school, or work. If you suspect an athlete may have a concussion, he or she should be evaluated by a physician. When in doubt, sit them out!
© 2008 Massachusetts Medical Society Committee on Student Health and Sports Medicine
Editor: Alan B. Ashare, MD
Many thanks to Catherine E. O'Connor, MD, past chair of the MMS Committee on Student Health and Sports Medicine, Michael Stuart, MD, chief of sports medicine at the Mayo Clinic, and Christopher Nowinski, president of the Sports Legacy Institute, for their review and assistance with this brochure. We also gratefully acknowledge the members of the Massachusetts Medical Society Committee on Student Health and Sports Medicine.
Developed in cooperation with the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association and the Massachusetts Medical Society Alliance
Note: The information contained on this web-site and the brochure is intended to serve as a general resource and guide. It is not to be construed as medical advice or legal opinion.