Center for Health & Wellness

Concussions: Don’t Walk It Off!

Concussions have become a hot topic lately with the increased number of NFL players suing the NFL for not taking proper precautions when symptoms were present. That, combined with the increasing number of former NFL players and other high impact athletes developing a progressive degenerative brain condition called chronic traumatic encephalopathy, has really changed the way concussions are being managed. This increased awareness is great for professional athletes, but what about school, community, youth, and city league programs? These programs simply do not have the funds to hire a qualified physician to rule out concussions. However, that does not mean that concussions are not occurring at these levels, they’re just not getting diagnosed. I can’t tell you the number of patients that I have had from sports injuries and auto accidents that have had concussions and been unaware even after seeing a doctor before seeing me. That’s why it is imperative that we are able to recognize the symptoms of concussions, not only in ourselves, but also in our loved ones. This will ensure that the proper precautions be taken and potentially fatal consequences can be avoided.

“More than 62,000 concussions are sustained each year in high school contact sports. – University of Pittsburgh’s Brain Trauma Research Center”

Concussions are common in high impact sports including soccer, football, basketball, and hockey, just to name a few. They also occur frequently in motor vehicle collisions. Many concussions go undiagnosed because the assumption is that there has to be loss of consciousness, this is not true. In fact, concussions can be caused from whiplash injuries in the absence of direct impact to the head. When head trauma occurs but loss of consciousness does not there are several other signs and symptoms that can indicate the presence of a concussion:

  • headache
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • blurry or double vision
  • ringing in the ears
  • fatigue
  • loss of coordination
  • memory loss
  • slow or slurred speech
  • concentration loss
  • personality changes
  • irritability
  • confusion
  • unable to orient to person, place, and time
  • loss of conscoiusness

The real danger associated with concussions is the double impact syndrome. This happens when a second concussion occurs while there are still signs or symptoms of the first present and can be fatal. That is why anybody exhibiting the symptoms listed above should be immediately evaluated by a qualified physician.

“If the concussion occurs during sports the athlete should immediately be held out of play. This is not an injury that should be “walked off” on the field of play or the sideline.”

Athletes should not return to play until all signs and symptoms are gone and they have been cleared by a qualified physician. Even if symptoms resolve the same day the athlete should not return to play that day. In addition to the information above, the American Academy of Neurologists have developed a smart phone app called Concussion Quick Check, highlighted by Medical News Today. This app was designed for coaches and athletic trainers to make it easier for concussions to be identified in the absence of a physician.

Hopefully, this information will help increase the awareness and recognition of concussions. Therefore, the proper precautions can be taken to prevent permanent neurologic deficits or even fatality. If you have any questions or concerns about concussions please give me a call.



  1. American Association of Neurological Surgeons. “Concussion.” AANS. December 2011. Web. April 24, 2013.
  2. University of Pittsburgh Neurological Surgery. “Concussions.” University of Pittsburgh Neurological Surgery. UMC Web Team. 2013. Web. April 24, 2013.
  3. Nordqvist, Christian. “Concussion Quick Check – New App To Evaluate Sports Concussions At Games.” Medical News Today. March 19, 2013. Web. April 24, 2013.