Concussions in Student Athletics
By Taylor (T.J.) Hall, Athletic Trainer, Methodist Hospital Therapy Services
A concussion can be defined as a mild type of traumatic brain injury. Although
concussions are usually not life threatening, they can cause problems
later in life.
How are concussions caused?
A concussion is caused by a blow to the head or body, often involving
a whiplash movement in which the head and brain moves rapidly back and
forth. Concussions occur mainly in high impact sports but can also occur
in automobile accidents, workplace incidents and falls.
What are the symptoms of a concussion?
Symptoms can include severe headaches, difficulty concentrating, memory
loss, lack of coordination, pupil dilation, nausea, compromised balance
and vision, bruising, emotional outbursts, difficulty speaking and a disrupted
What if a concussion is suspected?
Any blow to the head that causes concussion-like symptoms should be reported
immediately to the athletic trainer or a coach. Athletic trainers are
trained to evaluate and test athletes suspected to have a concussion.
If the athlete lost consciousness or has extreme symptoms, they will be
sent to the ER for further evaluation. If symptoms are not severe, the
athlete will most likely be referred to a physician.
What is recommended regarding rest and recovery?
After a concussion has been confirmed, the athlete will be instructed
by the physician to refrain from cognitive and physical exertion, which
may include academic rest, in order not to impede recovery.
What is the Return to Play Protocol (RTPP)?
Once an athlete receives medical clearance, they can start the Return
to Play Protocol (RTPP). RTPP consists of four steps, directed and supervised
by the athletic trainer. The athlete must complete each step without onset
of symptoms and be symptom free for 24 hours before progressing to the
next step. Step #1 includes light intensity aerobic activity for 10-15
minutes. Step #2 consists of moderate intensity aerobic exercise while
including sport specific drills for 45 minutes. Step #3 is participation
in non-contact practice/drills, including weight training. Step #4 is
full contact practice. If the athlete completes all steps without the
onset of symptoms, they can return to full participation.
About Taylor (T.J.) Hall, MS, ATC/L
Taylor (T.J.) Hall, Athletic Trainer at Methodist Hospital, works with
Henderson County High School athletes, providing prevention, emergency
care, treatment and rehabilitation of athletic injuries. To learn more about
Therapy Services at Methodist Hospital, call 270-827-7593.