Soccer player waiting on the sidelines

What happens if I've been hit in the head?

A “typical” concussion involves an athlete being struck directly on the head or in the body causing the head to shake.

The athlete should report symptoms and be removed from play. Standard concussion testing and a neurologic exam should be performed to confirm the diagnosis and to rule out more serious injuries. Often, certified athletic trainers are on site and are proficient in recognizing the signs and symptoms of concussion as well as “red flag” symptoms that warrant immediate evaluation. If no medical personnel are on site, it is best to be seen by a medical provider as soon as possible.

“In terms of treatment, initially I need to see the patient and perform a thorough neurological exam to make sure his or her symptoms are not related to more ominous conditions such as a brain bleed,” Lucas said. “Once I have determined the athlete has a normal neurologic exam, I will make academic accommodations to allow them to attend school without worsening symptoms. Sometimes, I withhold students from school for a period of time to allow their symptoms to improve. I also discuss other issues such as driving.”

To get back to the sport, symptoms have to resolve completely. The athlete is then progressed through a graded “return to play” progression. Medications can also be used to control debilitating or persisting symptoms as well as vestibular therapy for those with vestibular dysfunction.