Concussions are a potentially dangerous injury for our youth often ignored and not recognized. 300,000 sports-related concussions are reported each year with actual numbers thought to be 2-3 times higher but often not reported.

• A concussion is a Brain injury
• All concussions are serious
• Concussions can occur without loss of consciousness
• Concussions can occur in ANY sport and at any age
• Proper management and recognition of concussions when they first occur can prevent further injury or even death

Concussions are caused by a bump, blow or jolt to the head. The potential for this type of injury is greatest in sports where there is a possibility of some type of collisions. Environmental factors including uneven playing ground, or colliding with equipment such as a goalpost may be involved.

Symptoms of concussions can include:
Physical symptoms
1. Headache
2. Dizziness
3. Sensitivity to light
4. Nausea

Cognitive symptoms
1. Amnesia of events that happen before (retrograde) or after (post-traumatic) injury.
2. Confusion
3. Difficulty on concentrating
4. Short-term memory and recall deficits

Emotional symptoms
1. Tearfulness
2. Giddiness
3. Sharp mood swings

Often times coaching staff may observe the following signs in players that may include:

Appearing dazed
Answers questions slowly
Is confused about assignment
Loses consciousness
Shows behavior or personality changes
Forgets plays
Is unsure of game, score, or opponent
Can’t recall events prior to hit
Moves clumsily
Can’t recall events after hit

If these symptoms are seen by trained personnel, the player should be kept from play until cleared by a health professional. Trained individuals may look at varying grades of concussion as presented by the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control in regard to treatment, removal of athletes, and allowance to return from a contest. Athletic trainers, coaches, and school nurses are trained in recognition of signs, symptoms and treatment of concussions.

Parents need to learn to identify these same things to protect their children. Parents and athletes/youth need to be accepting of the care that is exercised to protect our youth from further injury. Encourage youth to have and wear proper fitting safety equipment. Protocols have been established for return to play and again need to be followed. A potential for second impact syndrome is possible if a first concussion has been completely resolved and cared for. If this happens, serious brain damage and the potential of death may occur.

For additional information on concussions including signs and symptoms and treatment, contact public health at 563-382-4662 or go to, link to , or

Winneshiek County Public Health is “caring for the community”; striving to promote, and protect the health of all. Please look to protect our children; they are an important commodity to the future of our community.