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Sports Concussions
By Dr. Jose Ramirez-DelToro

The beginning of school signals the start of high school sports across Western Pennsylvania. This is an opportune time to focus on concussions and head injuries, a topic which has been in the news lately and concerns all of us who are in any way involved with high school athletics. There have been several high profile concussion injures in our area amongst professional and high school athletes alike, and some of these have had catastrophic endings. Therefore, education about concussions is extremely important to raise awareness of the truths, myths and dangers of this particular sports injury.
A concussion is a form of traumatic brain injury. It involves hits to the head, face or neck area and is defined by the onset of symptoms after the hit occurs. Some common symptoms that signal the occurrence of a concussion include loss of consciousness, memory loss, drowsiness, vision deficits, fogginess, headaches, vomiting, sensitivity to light, concentration deficits, and confusion. One myth among high school coaches and parents is that a player has to lose consciousness or pass out for a concussion to occur. False. Another myth is that players can “shake it off” after a hit to the head and can continue to play. Very false!
Recent research shows that if a concussion is sustained by a player whose brain is not yet fully developed (high school athletes!), returning to play can be deadly. If a player returns to sports action while still exhibiting any symptom of a concussion from a prior hit, and the player sustains another hit to the head, face, neck, or even a light shove, brain swelling can occur which can be deadly. This is called Second Impact Syndrome.
Any athlete exhibiting any symptoms of a concussion should be removed from participation and evaluated by a sports medicine expert. There are guidelines that dictate safe return to play as well as a battery of mental function tests that can gauge recovery from a concussion. The safety of our kids is paramount. Please have them evaluated by a sports medicine specialist if a concussion has occurred!

Dr Jose Ramirez-DelToro can be reached at (412) 276-7022 or (724) 379-5802. For more information, visit The Orthopedic Group website at www.theorthopedicgroup.com.

“Recent research shows that if a concussion is sustained by a player whose brain is not yet fully developed (high school athletes!), returning to play can be deadly.”
-Dr. Jose Ramirez-DelToro

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