Concussions result from a blow to the head that causes the brain to be shaken inside the skull. Especially among children and young adults who participate in impact sports, such as football or basketball, concussions can be quite common. However, because concussions are often described as “mild,” we may forget that they are significant brain injuries.
Neuroscientists estimate that the brain is not fully mature until a person reaches his or her mid-20s. Therefore, even a mild concussion can result in problems with cognition and day-to-day functioning. And experiencing a second concussion, called second-impact syndrome, before the effects of the first concussion have completely resolved can cause major long-term brain damage—even death.
Symptoms of a concussion include headache, nausea, vomiting and dizziness. Because a person who has sustained a concussion may feel no symptoms when at rest, anyone who has experienced a possible head injury needs to move around a bit. If any symptoms of a concussion ensue, the person should not return to the field of play.
If headache, nausea, vomiting or dizziness lasts longer than 15 minutes or the athlete shows any indication of posttraumatic memory loss, even if there is no loss of consciousness, the athlete should not return to action until he or she has gone at least one week without exhibiting any symptoms at rest or during exertion. If the person loses consciousness for any length of time, no matter how brief, he or she should not return to sports for several weeks or even months, depending on individual response. Symptoms usually go away without treatment.