Concussion Information

On Traumatic Brain Injury...

MYTH:  To get a concussion, one must be struck in the head.
FACT:  Jarring, whiplash and violent shaking can cause a concussion, without the person ever being hit in the head.  The brain has a Jell-O like consistency and can "slosh" within the skull.  When it impacts the skull from the aforementioned mechanisms, it can cause a concussion.
MYTH:  Only high-risk contact sports, like football, see concussions.
FACT:  Any sport, whether contact or not, is susceptible for having concussions.  For high school athletes, the highest rates of concussion are seen in football, women's soccer and men's soccer, respectively.
MYTH:  Helmets and mouthguards can prevent concussions.
FACT:  Helmets are designed to redistribute force in an attempt to prevent skull fractures.  The jarring that takes place from a blow to a helmet is still capable of causing a concussion.  Mouthguards merely help prevent dental injuries.
MYTH:  If a CT scan comes back negative, the athlete is okay to return to play.
FACT:  More often than not a CT scan will come back negative for concussion, even though the patient has concussion signs and symptoms.  An athlete should return to play only after they have been cleared by a licensed healthcare provider (ATC's, MD's) specifically trained in concussion assessment and management.

Anatomy Of A Concussion

Signs and Symptoms of a Concussion

A person may experience one or more of the following symptoms:  headaches, pressure in the head, nausea/vomiting, neck pain, balance problems, dizziness, blurred/double/fuzzy vision, sensitivity to light/noise, feeling sluggish/slowed down, feeling foggy/groggy, drowsiness, change in sleep patterns, amnesia, fatigue/low energy, sadness, nervousness/anxiety, irritability, more emotional, confusion, concentration/memory problems and repeating the same question/comment.

Additionally, the following signs may be observed by bystanders:  dazed appearance, vacant facial expressions, forgets plays, confused about position assignment, unsure of game/score/opponent, moves clumsily/displays discoordination, answers questions slowly, slurred speech, behavior/personality changes, can't remember events before/after hit, seizures/convulsions and loss of consciousness.

Care for Concussions:

  1. Avoid strenuous activity of any kind until symptom free.
  2. No alcohol, aspirin, anti-inflammatory medications or sleep-aids after injury; Tylenol only after 24-hours after injury as directed.
  3. DO NOT drive until cleared to do so by a medical professional trained in concussion management.
  4. DO NOT return to play until cleared by a medical professional trained in concussion management.
  5. Do not watch TV, play video games, text, read or engage any activity the requires a screen or a great deal of focus to accommodate mental rest.
  6. Increase your water/fluid consumption.
  7. Monitor your symptoms and seek immediate medical attention (911) if any of the following occur:
    • Headache pain and/or pressure gets worse
    • Become very drowsy or can't be awakened
    • Can't recognize people or places
    • Have repeated vomiting
    • Have seizures
    • Slurred speech
    • Very unsteady on your feet
    • Pupils are of unequal size or dilated when in light

General Return to Play Guidlines

Stage 1 
Rest, mentally & physically until sign
& symptom free
Stage 2 
Light aerobic exercise
Stage 3 
Sport-specific exercise
Stage 4 
Non-contact training drills and light resistance training
Stage 5 
Full-contact training after medical clearance
Stage 6 
Return to competition

NOTE:  If at any time during the progression of returning to play signs and symptoms are experienced, the athlete should immediately report them to their athletic trainer, coach and parents.


Seattle Sports Concussion Program Providers:

Seattle Children's Hospital
1500 116th Ave NE
Bellevue, WA 98004
206-987-2109 Appointments
425-454-4644 Office
206-987-3115 Fax

Harborview Medical Center
908 Jefferson 5th Floor
Seattle, WA  98104
(206) 744-8000
(877) 900-4323