How to Check for Concussion

How to Check for Concussion

When it comes to soccer and other physical activities, concussions are a common concern. A concussion is a type of brain injury that occurs when the head is hit or jolted, causing the brain to move around inside the skull.

Disclaimer: Before we proceed any further, I’d just like to state that I am in no way a medical professional. This is just a topic that I’ve researched to teach my readers. Please seek a professional if you are experiencing any symptoms. Now, back to our regularly scheduled program…

While most concussions are mild, they can still cause serious symptoms and complications if left untreated. That’s why it’s important to know how to check for a concussion.

The signs and symptoms of a concussion can vary from person to person, but there are some common ones to look out for. These include headaches, dizziness, confusion, memory loss, nausea, and sensitivity to light or noise.

In this article, we’ll go over some tips on how to check for a concussion so you can stay safe and healthy during soccer training and games.

Concussion Symptoms

If you suspect that you or someone else might have a concussion, it’s important to look out for the following symptoms.

Keep in mind that symptoms may not appear immediately after the injury and may take hours or even days to show up.

Physical Symptoms

Physical symptoms of a concussion can include:

  • Headache or pressure in the head
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Dizziness or balance problems
  • Sensitivity to light or noise
  • Blurred vision or eyes that tire easily
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Fatigue or drowsiness
  • Loss of consciousness (even briefly)

Cognitive Symptoms

Cognitive symptoms of a concussion can include:

  • Difficulty concentrating or remembering
  • Feeling confused or disoriented
  • Slowed thinking or responding
  • Feeling foggy or groggy
  • Difficulty with problem-solving or decision-making

Emotional Symptoms

Emotional symptoms of a concussion can include:

  • Irritability or mood swings
  • Anxiety or nervousness
  • Depression or sadness
  • Personality changes

If you or your child is experiencing any of the symptoms above after getting hit in the head or falling hard, please seek medical attention asap!

Concussion Assessment

Assessing for concussion is important for identifying and managing head injuries. There are different types of assessments that can be done, including baseline testing and sideline testing.

Baseline Testing

Baseline testing is done before an injury occurs to establish a baseline of a person’s cognitive and physical function. This information can be used as a comparison to assess any changes that occur after a head injury. Baseline testing can include:

  • Cognitive testing: This can involve memory, attention, and reaction time tests.
  • Balance testing: This can involve standing on one leg or walking in a straight line.
  • Physical testing: This can involve measuring strength, speed, and agility.

At many soccer clubs now, someone will administer an onsite and/or online baseline test before the season begins. This will provide a baseline just in case it needs to be used at any point over the season.

My son’s team performed a physical test before a pre-season practice and a cognitive test online. I’m not too sure about the balance testing though.

Sideline Testing (during games)

Sideline testing is done immediately after a suspected head injury occurs. This type of testing can help determine if a concussion has occurred and if the player should remain out of the rest of the game. Sideline testing can sometimes include:

  • Symptoms evaluation: This involves asking the person if they are experiencing any symptoms such as headache, dizziness, or confusion.
  • Cognitive testing: This can involve memory, attention, and reaction time tests.
  • Balance testing: This can involve standing on one leg or walking in a straight line.
  • Coordination testing: This can involve tasks such as touching your finger to your nose or walking heel-to-toe.

Sideline testing is typically done by a medical professional, such as an athletic trainer or team physician.

It is important to note that sideline testing is not a definitive diagnosis of concussion, but rather a tool to help determine if further evaluation is needed.

Treatment for Concussions

After a concussion diagnosis, it is essential to take the necessary steps to help your brain recover. The following sub-sections will detail the treatment options for concussion.

Rest and Recovery

The first step in treating a concussion is to rest. This means avoiding any physical or mental activities that could worsen your symptoms.

You should also avoid any activities that require concentration, such as reading or using a computer or phone. It is essential to get enough sleep and avoid alcohol and drugs that could slow down your recovery.

Your doctor may recommend a gradual return to activity once your symptoms start to improve. This means starting with light activities, such as walking or stretching, and gradually increasing the intensity and duration of your exercise.

It is crucial to listen to your body and not push yourself too hard, as this could lead to a setback in your recovery.

Gradual Return to Soccer

Once your symptoms have improved, it is time to start a gradual return to soccer activities.

This means slowly reintroducing physical and mental activities, such as school, into your routine. You should start with light activities and gradually increase the intensity and duration over time.

It is essential to monitor your symptoms during this process.

If you experience any setbacks or worsening of symptoms, you should stop and rest until your symptoms improve.

Your doctor may recommend a step-by-step plan for returning to activities, which may include a visit to a specialist, such as a physical therapist or neurologist.

What Do You Do for a Mild Concussion?

If you have a mild concussion, there are a few things you can do to help yourself recover:

  1. Rest: It’s important to give your brain time to heal. Rest is one of the best things you can do for a concussion. Avoid activities that could make your symptoms worse, such as watching TV, using a computer, or playing video games.
  2. Manage your symptoms: Headaches, dizziness, and nausea are common symptoms of a concussion. Over-the-counter pain relievers like acetaminophen or ibuprofen can help with headaches. If you’re feeling nauseous, try eating small, frequent meals throughout the day.
  3. Avoid physical activity: It’s important to avoid physical activity until your symptoms have completely gone away. This includes soccer, exercise, and any other activities that could cause another head injury.
  4. Monitor your symptoms: Keep track of your symptoms and how they change over time. If your symptoms get worse or don’t improve after a few days, you should see a doctor.
  5. Return to normal activities slowly: Once your symptoms have completely gone away, you can probably start to return to your normal activities. Start slow and safe then progress as you see fit.

Preventing Concussions

Preventing a concussion is always better than treating one. Here are some ways to reduce the risk of getting a concussion:

  • Wear a helmet: For activities outside of soccer, like bike riding or scootering, always wear a helmet. This can significantly reduce the risk of getting a concussion. Make sure the helmet fits correctly and is worn properly. Who cares if you don’t “look cool”…you’d rather have your entire life ahead of you, right?
  • Use proper technique: Using the correct technique when playing soccer can help reduce the risk of getting a concussion. Make sure to follow the rules of the game and avoid dangerous moves. I know it sounds weird, but learn to fall properly.
  • Stay alert: Always keep your head on a swivel, especially when participating in contact sports. Keep an eye out for other players and avoid collisions.
  • Take breaks: If you are feeling tired or dizzy, take a break. Resting can help reduce the risk of getting a concussion.
  • Get a check-up: If you have had a concussion in the past, make sure to get a check-up before returning to any contact sports. Your doctor can help determine when it is safe for you to return to play.

Should Soccer Clubs Have a Medical Professional Onsite?

Yes! It is important for soccer games to have a medical staff onsite.

Soccer is a physically demanding sport that involves a lot of running, jumping, and physical contact, which can lead to head injuries.

Having a medical staff onsite ensures that injured players can receive prompt medical attention and treatment, which can help to prevent further damage and promote faster recovery.

Soccer clubs should have a medical professional that is close by to ensure that injuries are properly treated. As parents, club soccer is a pay-to-play program so organizations should invest in the well-being of their players.

Final Thoughts

Getting a possible concussion is no joke and should be taken very seriously.

Knowing the signs and symptoms of a concussion, such as headache, dizziness, and confusion, can help to identify potential cases and prompt individuals to seek medical attention.

Additionally, following the proper protocol for a concussion assessment, including using diagnostic tools like the SCAT5 and seeking input from medical professionals, can help to ensure that individuals receive appropriate treatment and care.

By taking these steps, we can help to minimize the risks and long-term effects of concussions that happen in soccer.

Beau Bridges - Soccer Novo Hey 👋 I’m Beau. A proud Dad, former coach and soccer enthusiast. I continue to love the game of soccer today the same way I did when I was 7. I created to share what I know about the game as well as provide a platform so other parents can learn more about youth soccer in the U.S.

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