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Kids, Sports, and Concussion: A Guide for Coaches and Parents, 2nd Edition
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Introduction We were in the heart of the rugby scrum. A 20-year-old lock playing for Boston College was struck in the head by a forceful kick of an opponent. As the ball was released, he staggered away toward the wrong end of the field before collapsing to the ground. He rose unsteadily, only to collapse again. Finally, he rose to his feet and began sprinting, in an attempt to rejoin the play. But he was running in the wrong direction, away from ball. He fell one last time, only to be helped off of the field by his teammates. “What’s the matter with him,” hollered the coach. “He’s alright,” came the reply. “He just got his bell rung.” And that was how it was. We got “shaken up” or “had our bells rung.” We simply “shook it off,” “toughed it out,” or “walked it off.” The word concussion was rarely used. When it was used, it was mostly for athletes who were knocked unconscious for longer than a few seconds. Many times, we returned to the game in which we were injured. Often, we returned while still experiencing headaches, ring- ing in the ears, and other symptoms. So why all the concern nowadays? What was it that changed the way sport-related concussion is diagnosis and managed? Why is the media con- stantly reporting stories about concussion in young athletes? Four main medical findings change the way we think about sport-related concussion: 1. Concussion results in measurable brain dysfunction, which lasts for several days, weeks, or even months in some athletes. 2. This brain dysfunction often persists, even after the athlete reports being symptom-free. 3. Athletes who sustain one concussion are at increased risk of sustaining more concussions in the future.