Recognizing Concussions

USA Today recently brought up the topic, “how do families with concussion concerns pick sports?” Although there is much talk in the news about youth football injuries, many other sports pose injury concerns for parents and athletes. According to Safe Kids Worldwide, soccer players have the same percentage of injuries that are concussions as football players. Soccer player Tori Bellucci told her concussion story earlier this year as part of the White House’s summit on concussions and youth sports. The summit shined a spotlight on the nation’s interest in finding new ways to identify, treat and prevent serious head injuries in youth athletes.

After a successful high school soccer career at Huntington High School, Bellucci was offered a full scholarship to play soccer at Towson, but the physical and emotional effects of multiple concussions made her realize the risks of continuing to competitively play the sport she loves. Tori elected not to play soccer in college after she suffered her fifth concussion.

“It changes the way you think and feel,” Bellucci, 18, said. “I was just like really sad, really kind of desperate type of feeling. I couldn’t do anything because of my head, so I would just be in my room with the shades drawn. I was like, ‘I don’t want to live like this anymore.’”

Unfortunately, the effects of initially unrecognized and repeated concussions meant Bellucci’s dream of playing soccer in college ended, but she continues to work hard to recover and remains active in sports by teaching young children how to play soccer. At the summit, President Obama referenced Bellucci’s experience as an example to other young athletes and parents about the commitment ahead of us to change perceptions and improve outcomes.

Safe Kids reports that every three minutes in the U.S., a child is seen in the emergency department for a concussion, yet 54 percent of athletes admit they have played injured. The CDC has great resources for parents and athletes for preventing, recognizing and treating sports injuries.

Signs of a concussion that coaches, athletic trainers and parents may notice:

  • Appears dazed or stunned
  • Is confused about assignment or position
  • Forgets an instruction
  • Is unsure of game, score, or opponent
  • Moves clumsily
  • Answers questions slowly
  • Loses consciousness (even briefly)
  • Shows mood, behavior, or personality changes
  • Can’t recall events prior to hit or fall
  • Can’t recall events after hit or fall

Symptoms that athletes may report:

  • Headache or “pressure” in head
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Balance problems or dizziness
  • Double or blurry vision
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Sensitivity to noise
  • Feeling sluggish, hazy, foggy, or groggy
  • Concentration or memory problems
  • Confusion
  • Does not “feel right” or is “feeling down”

For an easy reference, visit the Childress Institute for Pediatric Trauma’s easy concussion overviewand click the graphic to download and print. For more information and stories from athletes, parents, coaches and athletic trainers, please visit:

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