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All About Concussions: Important Information for Athletes

Author: Rosemary Buckle, M.D.

Because concussions don’t leave a bruise, limp, or broken bone, many athletes don’t give them the proper attention that is their due. This is especially common amongst student athletes, who are often under pressure from coaches and teammates to get back on the field.

Concussions are very serious injuries. Even if you feel fine a few days after the impact, you should still take it easy, follow your physician’s guidelines, and wait for a return-to-play clearance.

What is a concussion?

A concussion is a mild traumatic brain injury (TBI). Sudden impact to the head can jar the brain within the skull. Common concussion symptoms may include headache, memory loss, and confusion. Severe symptoms like total disorientation, loss of coordination, and repetitive vomiting may be cause for professional medical care.

How long does it take to recover from a concussion?

Recovery depends on the patient and the incident. More severe concussions will require a longer recovery period; also, patients who have previously sustained one or more concussions may have a longer recovery period. It is very important to fully rest and recover before returning to play, as having a second concussion while still recovering form the first can be extremely dangerous. This is known as “second impact syndrome” (SIS), which is often fatal.

What should I do to recover from a concussion?

As a sports medicine physician, I usually advise the following. However, it’s important to follow the specific directions given by your doctor, as the severity of the concussion and your medical history may affect the details of your recovery plan:

  • Rest well. Get plenty of sleep at night. Take it easy during the day.
  • Avoid strenuous mental and physical activity. For more severe concussions, your provider may suggest eliminating all unnecessary brain activity, including work and school, reading, watching TV, conversation, etc.
  • Above all else, avoid contact sports and any high speeds that could put you at risk for impact and an additional concussion.
  • Avoid alcohol and only use drugs that have been approved by your health care provider.
  • Avoid multitasking and computer usage.
  • Ask your employer or school system about easing back to your routine with half-days and/or shorter weeks.
  • Get physician approval before driving or returning to your normal activities and sports.

Concussion Care From a Houston Sports Medicine Physician

To schedule your appointment with a sports medicine physician in downtown Houston, call Houston Institute for Sports Medicine and Orthopedics at (713) 756-5546. You can also schedule your appointment online.

Please consult with your physician before undertaking any form of medical treatment or adopting any exercise program or dietary guidelines.