October 9, 2013

This article appears in the October issue of 
Lacrosse Magazine.

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Just the Facts, Please

What we know about concussions

by Paul Ohanian | LaxMagazine.com

A concussion is an elusive injury with no clear marker, especially on the sideline.

Symptoms include headache, nausea, dizziness, confusion, amnesia, loss of consciousness or unresponsiveness. Most concussions happen without loss of consciousness.

Concussion symptoms are grouped into four categories: physical (headaches, dizziness, nausea); cognitive (memory dysfunction, fogginess, fatigue); emotional (sadness, nervousness, irritability); and sleep disturbance (difficulty falling asleep, sleeping less than usual).

Sideline testing evaluates orientation, short-term memory, simple concentration and attention, balance and delayed memory.

Questions to consider when assessing the severity of concussions: How many symptoms are present? How long do they last? How much of a burden are the symptoms?

Sample questions to evaluate recent and remote memory: Where are you? Who are we playing? What half is it? Who did we play last week?

An athlete suspected of a concussion should not return to play on the same day, even if symptoms appear to resolve. A written concussion policy can ease the decision-making burden.

As of July 1, 49 states and Washington D.C. have passed return-to-play laws protecting students from returning to play too soon after suffering the effects of a concussion. Maryland, for example, requires clearance by a licensed health care professional trained in concussions. The state also has implemented awareness programs, while requiring students and their parents to sign a concussion information sheet before participating in any sport.

In 90 percent of cases, symptoms resolve within 10 to 14 days.

A US Lacrosse- and NOCSAE-funded video analysis study by Dr. Andy Lincoln of Fairfax County (Va.) found that boys' lacrosse accounted for the second-highest rate of concussions among all sports, second only to football. For girls, however, concussions are less common in lacrosse than in basketball and soccer.

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