A concussion is a type of mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI),
caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head that can change the
way your brain normally works. According to the Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 3.8 million
sports-related concussions are reported in the U.S. every year.
Concussions can occur from a blow to the body that causes the
head to move rapidly back and forth. Even a "ding," "getting your
bell rung," or what seems to be a mild bump or blow to the head
can be serious. Many people assume that if an athlete does not
lose consciousness then they did not suffer a concussion. This is
Athletes who sustain repeat concussions are also at a higher risk
for brain swelling permanent damage and even death.
Did you know?
According to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, 10
percent of all contact sport athletes sustain concussions and 63
percent of all concussions occur in football players.
- An athlete who sustains a concussion is four to six times
more likely to sustain a second concussion.
- "Bell ringers" account for 75 percent of all concussions.
- The effects of a concussion are cumulative in athletes who
return to play prior to complete recovery.
- Concussion headaches are the No. 1 reported symptom, usually
described as a "pressure sensation" which worsens as the day
- Eighty percent of all concussions get better within 3 weeks
and 20 percent of concussions take three weeks or longer to
- Second impact syndrome (SIS), which results from a rapid
swelling of the brain, can occur if an athlete suffers an
additional concussion before symptoms of the initial concussion
- Adolescent athletes are more susceptible to second impact
- Second impact syndrome is more likely to occur within 14 days
of the initial concussion.
What is really going on in the brain after a concussion?
A metabolic imbalance occurs in the brain after a concussion.
Therefore increasing blood flow to the brain during recovery may
slow down the recovery process and worsen the
symptoms of concussion. Many patients with concussions have a
hard time concentrating or focusing on a task.
Recent research by the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center
indicates that females typically have more concussion symptoms
than males. Also, younger athletes (aged 18 and younger)
typically have longer recovery times after a concussion.
How does a concussion impact your ability to learn and
Both physical exertions and cognitive exertion, or thinking, are
usually difficult for an athlete who has suffered a concussion.
Cognitive exertion and the added stimulation of the school
environment can significantly increase concussion symptoms, even
during the recovery period. An athlete with a concussion will
frequently find that background noise, lighting, changing
classes, group work and testing can all exacerbate their
Physicians may prescribe a modified learning environment or
school schedule for athletes who have suffered a concussion. Do
you want to know more about academic accommodations?
Visit our toolbox or make an appointment with a physician
on our medical staff before your child returns to school.