Recognition, Management and Prevention

A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury, or TBI, that is often described as a "mild" brain injury because concussions are not usually life-threatening. Their effects, however, can be serious, especially if the brain is not given adequate time to heal before returning to sports or activities. Preventing concussion, recognizing symptoms, seeking medical evaluation and following concussion guidelines are all vital for full recovery and the prevention of more serious effects.

Concussions are caused by a fall or blow to the body that causes the head and brain to move rapidly back and forth, causing impact on the brain. Athletes experiencing any of the signs and symptoms below after a blow to the head or body should be kept out of play the day of the injury and until a health care professional skilled in evaluating concussion says they are symptom-free and able to return to play.

Observed Signs:

  • Appears dazed or stunned
  • Confused about assignment or position
  • Forgets an instruction
  • Is unsure of game, score or appointment
  • Moves clumsily
  • Answers questions slowly
  • Loses consciousness (even briefly)
  • Exhibits mood, behavior or personality changes
  • Can't recall events prior to hit or fall

Symptoms Reported by Athlete:

  • Headache or pressure in head
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Balance problems or dizziness
  • Double or blurry vision
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Sensitivity to noise
  • Feeling sluggish, hazy, foggy or groggy
  • Concentration or memory problems
  • Confusion
  • Just does not "feel right"

Rest is essential after a concussion to allow the brain adequate time to heal. If a repeat concussion occurs before the brain has recovered, there is an increased risk for a more serious brain injury with long-term effects. It is essential that coaches, parents and athletes are all educated on the importance of following strict concussion guidelines.

To lower your risk for head injuries and concussion, apply the same ThinkFirst message in all you do: Use your mind to protect your body! Make safe choices to prevent concussion and traumatic brain injury by:

  • Practicing safe techniques and actions on and off the field
  • Conditioning well to prepare for athletic activities
  • Follow the rules of the game and coach recommendations
  • Practice good sportsmanship and don't use unnecessary force
  • Always use the recommended protective gear, such as properly fitted helmets, pads, and eye and mouth guards
  • Protecting from traumatic brain injury and concussion goes beyond sports and recreation; Think First when it comes to vehicle safety, preventing falls and avoiding violence - all leading causes of brain injury

ThinkFirst About Concussion is a program available to schools and athletic groups through ThinkFirst chapters. Presentations are one class period in length, providing information on the prevention, recognition and response to concussion symptoms.

Find a Chapter to Schedule a Presentation

Order Brochures: Concussion Recognition and Management, Student Information

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