Ask the Sports Doc: Concussion

Published 10:54 pm Tuesday, July 7, 2009

My son has been diagnosed with a concussion after being hit in the head during a soccer game. This happened several months ago and the doctor has told him it is okay to go back to sports. Should I worry about a more severe concussion?

Dr. Patel writes: A concussion is when the brain sustains a traumatic event induced by outside forces such as a collision. It can also result from transmitted forces from another part of the body. Most of the time, the symptoms are short-lived impairments with a rapid onset and resolution.

A concussion results in a set of syndromes with or without loss of consciousness. Some other signs and symptoms of concussion are: loss of consciousness, amnesia, disorientation, headaches, nausea/vomiting, drowsiness and slurred speech.

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There are three grades to a concussion that may be useful for coaches and trainers to remember:

Grade 1 – No loss of consciousness or amnesia. Treatment involves return to play when the athlete is not complaining of any symptoms as long as he or she has not had more than three concussions in a season.

Grade 2 – Loss of consciousness for less than five minutes, confusion, or amnesia. These athletes should be taken out of the game for one week and return to play when they are not complaining of anything. Repeated episodes need to be evaluated by a doctor and play time suspended.

Grade 3 – Prolonged loss of consciousness, permanent amnesia and persistent disorientation to time, place or person. These athletes should get an automatic suspension of play, and they need to be seen by a healthcare professional immediately.

It sounds like your son had a grade one concussion and should be okay to play, as long as he not having any long-term symptoms.

Dr. Patel works at Southampton Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine Center in Franklin and at Lakeview Medical Center in Suffolk. His website has a health library, links and more information for patients.