New state concussion laws require sports organizations and staff to be educated about concussions, but athletes and their families need the same information to help protect themselves. Here are some concussion facts you should know:
A concussion is a brain injury. Concussions are caused by a hit to the head or body that impacts the brain. Even a "ding," "getting your bell rung" or receiving what seems to be a mild hit to the head or body can be serious. You can't see a concussion. Signs and symptoms can appear immediately after the injury or sometimes not until days or weeks later. If you notice any concussion symptoms, seek medical attention immediately.
Signs are what others can observe. Symptoms are what someone feels. Possible signs and symptoms of a concussion include:
- Changes in vision
- Changes in balance
- Difficulty concentrating or thinking
- Difficulty remembering things
- Increased irritability
- Increased sensitivity to stimulation, including noise, light or movement
"Red flags" are signs/symptoms that indicate a more serious condition and warrant immediate medical attention, such as brain swelling or bleeding. Call 911 immediately if you observe:
- Sudden and severe headache that doesn't get better with rest and/or medication
- Repeated vomiting (more than 1x)
- Increased confusion (unsure of date, time, place, etc.)
- Sudden and/or drastic change in speech, thinking, walking or vision
- Acute and drastic change in behavior (such as tearfulness, anger, irritability, etc.)
- Seek medical attention right away. A health care professional can determine if a concussion occurred, how serious it is, and when it's safe to return to sports.
- Do not return to play. Concussions take time to heal. The player should NOT return to play until a health care professional releases the person to return to activity. There is a greater risk of a second concussion or very serious injury if the athlete returns to activity before the brain is healed. More serious injuries can be extreme and can have lifelong effects.
- Tell the coach about any recent concussions. Coaches should know about recent concussions in ANY sport due to the risk that can occur if subsequent concussions occur.
Printable versions for athletes and parents
Parent/Athlete Concussion Information Sheet
Adequate, accurate and widely dispersed concussion education and information is the best way to prevent life-altering brain injuries. Current Oregon and Washington state laws require coaches and athletic staff at school and non-school sports programs to remove any athlete who is suspected of sustaining a concussion from play or practice and to receive proof of clearance by a medical professional before allowing that athlete to return to activity. While this information is critical to keeping young athletes safe, it can also be overwhelming for coaches and leagues, as well as parents. That's why Providence has partnered with the Portland Timbers MLS and Portland Thorns FC teams to produce concussion materials and tools, making information about concussions more accessible to coaches, athletes and families.
On-the-field assessment (Coming soon!)
These tools provide easy access to concussion management on the field, on the court, in the pool or on the slopes.
Concussion game plan
Current concussion laws do not require schools or leagues to have a specific protocol in place in order to respond to concussions. Having a plan of action, however, will help staff, families and athletes respond appropriately to potential concussion-causing incidents during games or practices. The Oregon Concussion Awareness and Management Plan (OCAMP) has produced an implementation guide for school administrators. The Providence Concussion Management Program has also developed a protocol for addressing concussion in non-school sports.