What Happens If You Keep Playing Sports with a Concussion?
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What Happens If You Keep Playing Sports with a Concussion?

youth head injury concussionEvery year, there are as many as 3.8 million concussions related to sports injuries, such as being hit in the head or hitting the turf of a sports field heavily with one’s head. An estimated 50% to 70% of these concussions are never reported.

As parents — and coaches — know, both school and professional athletes often want to continue playing or return to replaying very quickly after a sports-related concussion. The players might be motivated by love of the game, a fear that an injury will sideline them going forward, or the culture of “be tough and play,” which used to be common in sports. And players who don’t realize that they’ve suffered a concussion, of course, may continue or return to playing without knowing they’ve been injured.

Concussed Athletes Should Be Evaluated by a Doctor

None of these reasons are valid. The fact is, a sports-related concussion is increasingly being viewed as very serious, and as potentially carrying long-term health risks. Any player hit in the head should be evaluated by a physician for signs of a concussion. If a concussion has occurred, they need to stop play and be treated immediately.

A concussion is a form of traumatic brain injury (TBI). In a concussion, the brain is jostled back and forth inside the cranium. Short-term symptoms can include dizziness, nausea, seizures, fatigue, and blurred vision.

Long-term symptoms can include cognitive brain damage. Athletes with concussions may be more likely to develop dementia and Alzheimer’s disease later in life.

Concussions can also be fatal. A head injury can cause bleeding in the brain.

Athletes who continue to play immediately after sustaining a concussion run the risk of secondary impact syndrome. This occurs if they receive a TBI again shortly (within 10 days) after the first one. Secondary impacts can be fatal or lead to long-term cognitive damage. It can also take up to twice as long to recover.

Rest and Healing Are Essential After a Concussion

So if a concussion is suspected or diagnosed, it is not okay to keep playing. Athletes should be transported to a hospital or doctor’s office immediately.

If a concussion is diagnosed, the treatment is rest for 3 to 5 days.

People with a concussion also need to minimize their brain work for a while. Viewing screens and reading, which many student athletes might do for recreation and homework, can overtax a brain that has received trauma.

Students who resumed mental activity such as a full day of school immediately after a concussion took much longer to recover than students who allowed their heads to heal.

Some medical professionals recommend starting slowly and listening to your body. If symptoms like dizziness and nausea return after 3 hours of homework, for example, cut the length of time down to a manageable amount.

If You Need an Experienced Los Angeles Traumatic Brain Injury Lawyer

Now that the Fall playing season for football, soccer, and other sports has resumed in southern California, parents and coaches need to be vigilant about diagnosing and treating concussions and all TBIs immediately.

If you or a loved one has a sports-related concussion, contact an experienced TBI lawyer in Los Angeles today.

Patients with TBIs may have medical expenses, long-term mental and physical therapy, and may have a need for life-long care and specialized equipment. A suit can reclaim these damages and more.

Attorneys at Ellis Injury Law are seasoned in brain injury law. Contact us now at 1-800-INJURED for a discussion regarding your case. The initial consultation is free.

Additional Resources:

  1. Peachman, Rachel Rabkin. “Playing With a Concussion Doubles Recovery Time.” New York Times. August 29, 2016. https://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/29/well/move/playing-with-a-concussion-doubles-recovery-time.html
  2. Reinberg, Steven. “Power Down to Speed Concussion Recovery: Study.” WebMD. January 6, 2014. https://www.webmd.com/brain/news/20140106/power-down-to-speed-concussion-recovery-study#1