A concussion is an injury to your brain that temporarily affects your thinking and awareness. You may be knocked out (unconscious) or may just feel confused.
The skull bone protects your brain. Fluid inside your skull also cushions your brain. However, if your head gets hit hard enough, your brain can move inside the skull and bump up against your skull. This may injure your brain and temporarily change the way your brain works.
A sports-related concussion is a concussion that you get from a sports injury, such as hitting your head from playing football.
Almost 1 in 5 athletes playing contact sports have a concussion during the season.
Concussions can happen in any sport but are more likely in sports that have high-speed collisions, such football, rugby, ice hockey, and lacrosse
If you get a sports-related concussion, you may or may not pass out
If you get a sports-related concussion and keep playing sports, you're at higher risk for getting another concussion
Repeat concussions can be caused by minor head injury
Repeat concussions may increase your chance of having long-term brain damage and getting dementia
See a doctor right away, especially one who is has treated lots of sports-related concussions, if you think you have a sports-related concussion.
Concussions are caused by something hitting your head very hard. In sports, this can happen when you:
Concussions can happen in almost any sport. However, they are more likely in sports where people run into each other at high speed, such as football, rugby, ice hockey, or lacrosse. They are also more likely in sports involving sticks and pucks or balls that travel at high speed.
You may be unconscious for a little while (usually for less than 15 minutes). But you don't have to be knocked out to have a concussion. You may also have:
Confusion, including being dazed or stunned, being unsure of the score or what team you are playing, or answering questions slowly
Memory loss, such as not knowing team plays or not remembering what happened before or after the injury
Double vision and sensitivity to light
Headache and feeling dizzy
Some symptoms can happen for a few days or weeks after your concussion:
If you have more than one sports-related concussion, even minor ones, you can have long-term brain injury called CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy). CTE develops years later. It causes symptoms such as:
Parkinsonism is one or more of the movement problems like the ones people get from Parkinson disease, such as shaking, slow movement, trouble speaking, or stiff muscles
If you had a head injury while playing sports, a doctor will:
If you don't come back to normal within a few minutes or were unconscious for a long time, the doctor will usually:
Send you to the hospital for a CT scan of your head to make sure your brain isn't bleeding or bruised
It's good to see a doctor who has experience with sports-related concussions.
Your doctor will ask you to:
Before you can return to your sport, your doctor may ask you to start with easy exercises and slowly work your way through drills. You shouldn't start playing again until your symptoms are gone and your doctor clears you to play.
Some athletes undergo neurocognitive testing (testing of certain brain functions) before sports participation. This way if concussion is suspected, doctors can retest the athlete and find out if brain problems have developed.