July 15th – 21st is National Youth Sports Week

To finish out our Summer Safety Series, we will focus on sports-related head injuries.

Head injuries in sports are common, especially in contact sports. For elementary and high school-aged kids, this has become an ongoing topic of debate. There are stories of kids with concussions or injuries that lead to paralysis, long-term learning disabilities, or even death. 

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) in the United States
  • According to brainline.org, an estimated 2.8 million people sustain a TBI annually. Of them:
    • 50,000+ die
    • 282,000 hospitalization 
    • 5 million require emergency treatment.
  • TBI is a contributing factor to a third (30%) of all injury-related deaths in the United States.
  • Every day, 153 people in the United States die from injuries that include TBI.
  • Most TBIs that occur each year are mild, commonly called concussions.

Children up to 4 years, adolescents aged 15 to 19 years, and adults over 65 are most likely to sustain a TBI. Adults aged 75 and older have the highest rates of TBI-related hospitalization and death.

Minor Head Injuries

The diagnosis of minor head injuries relies on a person’s symptoms and the results of the exam.

These symptoms may include:

  • Repeated vomiting
  • Severe headache
  • Inability to feel or move an arm or leg
  • Inability to recognize people or their surroundings
  • Loss of balance
  • Problems with speaking or seeing
  • Lack of coordination
  • Abnormal breathing
  • Seizures

These symptoms might develop hours or days when the injury first occurs. If these symptoms occur, prompt medical attention is essential.

Severe Head Injury Symptoms

People may have some of the same symptoms that occur with a minor head injury, but they may be more severe.

Symptoms often start with a period of unconsciousness that begins at the time of impact. This can last from minutes to hours or even days. They may also vomit, have seizures, or both. Clear fluid or blood might drain from the nose, ears, or both when you have a fracture at the bottom of the skull.

Depending on which part of the head was injured, the ability to think, control emotions, move, feel, speak, see, hear, and remember things may be impaired—sometimes permanently.

(source: www.merckmanuals.com)

Diagnosis

An injured brain might bleed or swell as a result of called cerebral edema. This trauma and swelling increase the pressure on the brain, resulting in the skull not being able to expand to accommodate this fluid. As the pressure increases, the person’s symptoms worsen, and new symptoms appear. The first symptoms of increased pressure are worsening headaches, impaired thinking, and vomiting. Later, the person may become unresponsive. The pupils may dilate.

Eventually, usually within a day or two of injury, the increased pressure may force the brain downward, causing a herniation of the brain—an abnormal protrusion of brain tissue through a natural opening between the compartments of the brain. 

sports, injuries, concussions

Photo by Nick Fithen on Unsplash

Complications

If a head injury causes loss of consciousness, even briefly, immediate evaluation by a doctor is necessary. The doctor observes symptoms or findings that show potential brain injury via CT or MRI. CT is first on the list due to the ability to detect widespread damage. An MRI is if you are still having persistent symptoms post-concussion.

Long Term Effects

Undamaged spaces of the brain generally take over functions that were lost, resulting in partial recovery. However, as people age, the brain becomes less able to shift. For example, language skills are handled by several parts of the brain in young children but are concentrated on one side of the brain in adults. If the left hemisphere is severely damaged before age eight, the right hemisphere can assume near-normal language function.

Rehabilitation will help reduce some of the damage that resulted from a head injury.

If you or someone you know experiences a head injury, minor or major, find the nearest ER. After we diagnose, stabilize, and treat you, we can transport you to the hospital of your choice if you need surgery or extended treatment and rehabilitation.


Surepoint Emergency Center is a modern emergency medical facility open 24/7/365. As an alternative to the traditional hospital ER experience, we offer convenience and minimal wait time, along with highly-trained emergency medical staff and state-of-the-art equipment.

Our top priority is bringing high-quality emergency care, quickly and easily to your family. We are committed to making patients feel better faster in a comforting and compassionate environment.

Fast convenient care in your neighborhood.