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When Is It Safe to Play After a Concussion? (INFOGRAPHIC)

Author: Niki L. Carayannopoulos, DO

When it comes to concussions, there are many misconceptions among players, coaches and parents. For one, did you know that you don’t have to be “knocked out” to get a concussion? In fact, fewer than one in 10 people with a concussion lose consciousness, reports a new infographic from Mayo Clinic.

Findings from the infographic (reposted in full below) detail a few key facts everyone should know about concussions, especially if your child is involved in contact sports. Also, keep reading to learn about the King-Devick Test, which help coaches and parents determine when it’s safe for a player to play after a concussion.

5 Fast Facts About Concussions

A concussion occurs when an impact or force causes the head to violently move, reports Mayo Clinic. As the brain moves inside the skull, the brain tissue is stretched resulting, in concussion symptoms.

  • 47% of all reported concussions are from high school football.
  • You don’t have to hit your head to sustain a concussion – a sudden impact anywhere on the body can cause a concussion.
  • All concussions should be assessed by a medical professional.
  • Repeat concussions can be fatal, as one concussion frequently leads to another. After a concussion, you’re three to four times more likely to sustain another concussion within the same season.
  • Sadly, a second hit could be a player’s last. Second impact syndrome, when someone incurs a second concussion while still recovering from the initial injury, may result in rapid brain swelling that’s often fatal.

How to Determine If It’s Safe to Play After a Concussion

The King-Devick Test is one effective method that can be used by non-medical professionals (who have undergone the proper training) to screen for concussion on the sidelines. The test, which takes just two minutes, screens for:

  • Eye movements
  • Attention
  • Concentration
  • Speech/language
  • Other signs of sub-par brain function

Before the season starts, each athlete is timed while reading a series of single-digit numbers off a card or tablet. If an injury occurs, the athlete is asked to do the test again, and the post-injury time is compared to their pre-season baseline test time. If the injured athlete “passes” the test, then he or she may be cleared for play. If response time is too slow, the player needs to be sidelined and seen for a concussion evaluation.

Have questions about concussion recovery? Learn more about the recovery process in this blog post. Additionally, parents are encouraged to take a few minutes to learn what you can do to prevent concussions in your children.

Concussion? See a Houston Sports Medicine Doctor

Schedule an appointment at Houston Institute for Sports Medicine & Orthopedics by calling (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.