Willows Pediatrics Blog - We Know Kids
We Know Kids
The Willows Pediatrics Blog

Sports-Related Head Injuries … and How Willows Can Help Manage Them

pa_heatherHeather Buccigross, PA-C

Lately, concussions and head injuries have been making national headlines; the NFL has even changed some of its rules regarding permissible tackles to address the issue. On a more local level, concussions during sports—and the impact they have on the brain—are something we take very seriously here at Willows Pediatric Group.

With that in mind, we offer ImPACT testing, a computer-based testing program specifically designed for the management of sports-related concussion. ImPACT testing is widely used in concussion management and has been implemented in many high school and college athletic programs.

The test measures attention, memory, processing speed, and reaction time. In addition, it asks for the individual taking the test to indicate the presence and level of concussion symptoms, if they exist. One of our Physician’s Assistants, Heather Buccigross, has been specially trained in this area and can help manage and treat children ages 12 years and up. (Some schools perform baseline ImPACT testing on students playing contact sports.  Results of the testing can guide when it is safe for an athlete to return to sports.  If your child does not have a baseline test done at school, we can perform one-please speak to your physician or PA about scheduling one.)

Recently, Heather spoke to parents and coaches in Fairfield about concussions and sports, and we thought we would share some of the highlights of her speech. If you would like more information, please let us know.

A concussion, known in the medical world as MBTI (mild traumatic brain injury), is a disturbance in brain function that occurs following either a blow to the head, or as a result of the violent shaking of the head. The CDC reports 300,000 sports related concussions occur annually in the U.S, and it is believed that sports concussions are under reported and this does not reflect the true incidence.

If your child participates in sports, here is a list of some of the most common symptoms reported by athletes with head injuries:

  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Balance problems or dizziness
  • Double or fuzzy vision
  • Sensitivity to light or noise
  • Feeling sluggish
  • Feeling “foggy”
  • Change in sleep pattern
  • Concentration or memory problems
  • Also, here is a list of the most common behaviors others have observed in athletes with head injuries:
  • Appears to be dazed or stunned
  • Is confused about assignments
  • Forgets plays
  • Is unsure of game, score, or opponent
  • Moves clumsily
  • Answers questions slowly
  • Loses consciousness (even momentarily)
  • Shows behavior or personality change
  • Forgets events prior to hit (retrograde amnesia)
  • Forgets events after hit (anterograde amnesia)

Even if you don’t think your child was hit in the head, if he or she is experiencing these symptoms, it is best to have him or her evaluated. Something called “Second Impact Syndrome” occurs in athletes with an unreported, prior concussion who return to play before resolution of the symptoms and can cause a very serious increase in intracranial pressure.

This is one of the reasons coaches are encouraged to remove athletes from the game after any head injury and to perform an on-field mental status evaluation. When in doubt, it’s best to keep an athlete out of the game and refer him or her for a full evaluation in a medical office.  With proper diagnosis and management, we can maximize recovery after a concussion and take steps to avoid risk from returning to play too soon.

Your child’s safety is very important to us, and the proper management of head injuries is crucial. Again, if you would like to schedule baseline ImPACT testing or have any concerns about your athlete, please contact us.

Take care, and enjoy the spring sports season!