Frequently Asked Questions

Sports Concussion Questions & Answers

What is a concussion?

A concussion—also known as a mild traumatic brain injury—is caused by a bump, blow or jolt to either the head or the body that causes the brain to move rapidly inside the skull. A concussion changes how the brain normally functions.

Concussions can have serious and long-term health effects, and even a seemingly mild "ding" or a bump on the head can be serious.

Signs and symptoms of concussion include headache, nausea, fatigue, confusion or memory problems, sleep disturbances, or mood changes. Symptoms are typically noticed right after the injury, but some might not be recognized until days or weeks later.

What is post-concussion syndrome?

In some cases, athletes are slow to recover from a concussion. This is called post-concussive syndrome. Symptoms of post-concussive syndrome include:

  • Headaches or blurry vision.
  • Changes in ability to think, concentrate, or remember.
  • Changes in sleep patterns, such as not being able to sleep or sleeping all the time.
  • Changes in personality such as becoming angry or anxious for no clear reason.
  • Lack of interest in usual activities.
  • Dizziness, lightheadedness, or unsteadiness that makes standing or walking difficult.

If you experience these symptoms, call your doctor.

In what sports are concussions most often reported?

Concussions are common for both boys and girls in a wide variety of sports, including football, hockey, soccer, lacrosse and basketball.

In organized high school sports, concussions occur more often in competitive team sports, with football accounting for more than 60% of concussions. An estimated 10 percent of college players and 20 percent of high school players sustain brain injuries each season.

For high school females, the leading cause of sports concussion is soccer.

For ages 5-18, the five leading sports or recreational activities which account for concussions include: bicycling, football, basketball, playground activities and soccer.

What is known about sports concussion risk and recovery?

High school athletes’ recovery times for a sports concussion are longer than college athletes’ recovery times.

High school athletes who sustain a concussion are more likely to sustain a second concussion and take longer to recover from concussions compared to professional athletes.

Lack of proper diagnosis and management of concussion may result in serious long-term consequences, or risk of coma or death.

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