What to do After Receiving a Concussion

What to do After Receiving a Concussion

Concussions are inevitable with physical activities like sports. There are techniques and tricks to help reduce the chance of getting a concussion, but there is not a guaranteed way to stop concussions from happening, except for not playing sports altogether. Once someone sustains a concussion, he or she needs to be careful because people are three times more likely to get one after already being concussed.

Continuing to play with a concussion is very dangerous. Once it seems like someone sustains a brain injury like a concussion, the most important step is to remove the person from play. The next step is to be cleared by a medical professional before returning to the activity. When people do not follow return to play guidelines, it can be very dangerous and life threatening to the injured. This is a reason for the Lystedt Law, named after Zackery Lystedt. He sustained a concussion when playing football and returned in the second half instead of sitting out. When walking off the field after the game, he collapsed and convulsed, and was flown to the hospital. He was one hour away from dying from a catastrophic brain injury but was thankfully saved.  Zack was on life support for seven days, in a coma for three months, did not speak for nine months, could not move his arms or legs for 13 months, and used a feeding tube for 20 months. The Lystedt Law requires athletes to be removed from games or practice if a concussion is suspected, and to not be allowed to play until cleared by a medical professional trained in concussion management.

Another piece of legislation in Pennsylvania called the Safety in Youth Sports Act was created to help protect young athletes. It was put in place to prevent serious head injuries and raise awareness for the proper way to deal with youth concussions. The act requires coaches to promptly remove student athletes from the game if a concussion is suspected. Players then cannot return to play until being cleared in writing by a healthcare professional trained in diagnosing and managing concussions. If a coach fails to follow these guidelines penalties are given out.  For the first offense the coach is suspended from coaching for the rest of the season, for the second offense the coach is suspended for the remainder of the season and the next season, and for the third offense the coach is permanently banned from coaching.

Tips to prevent a Traumatic Brain Injury in Everyday Life:

  1. Wear a seat belt in the car
  2. Do not drive under the influence of drugs and alcohol
  3. Wear a helmet when:
    1. Riding a bike/motorcycle/snowmobile/scooter/ATV
    2. Playing a contact sport like football, hockey, and boxing
    3. Skating or skateboarding
    4. Batting or running the bases in baseball
    5. Riding a horse
    6. Skiing or snowboarding
  4. Prevent older adult falls
  5. Make living and play areas safe for children
    1. Use window guards
    2. Safety gates on stairs
    3. Make sure playgrounds have soft material like mulch or sand

If you would like to help you can donate to the Brain Injury Association of America.

Sources:
Monica Heger, “Is it true I am more likely to get a concussion after already having one?” Science Line (April 28, 2008). [Link]
Patricia Guthrie, “Ex Youth Football Player: You Could End Up Like Me” WebMD (October 21, 2015). [Link]
“Traumatic Brain Injury & Concussion Prevention” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. [Link]
“Youth Concussions and The Safety in Youth Sports Act” UPMC Sports Medicine. [Link]
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