Posted: Monday, July 17, 2023

The Impact of Sport-Related Concussions

Sports that involve speed and contact, for example football or lacrosse, have the highest rates of sport-related concussion, but few sports are free of risk. A concussion is classified as a brain injury after a blow to the head. Almost 20 percent of contact sports participants have at least one concussion over the course of a season. “We have a large athletic community in Blount County. East Tennessee Medical Group uses a network of providers for quick and accurate treatment of sport-related head injuries. This includes athletic trainers dedicated to each school system, emergency personnel, physical therapists and our sports medicine department,” said Dr. Benjamin England, a Tennessee native who is a board-certified physician in both family medicine and sports medicine with East Tennessee Medical Group.

Concussions probably aren’t happening more than they have in the past, we are just more aware of the signs of them and to look out for them, especially in contact sports. And once an athlete has recovered from a concussion, they are two to four times more likely to have another concussion. Repeat concussions can be caused by impacts less severe than the first one, making this a serious issue. “Sport-related concussion has become a significant problem. In recent years, it has made headlines with reports about the consequences of returning to play too soon, as well as research findings on the long-term effects of the injury,” England said. Post-concussion syndrome (PCS) symptoms can sometimes last for weeks, months or years, but early intervention and treatment can limit the progress of PCS.

The most common signs of a concussion are confusion, memory loss, double vision, sensitivity to light, dizziness or impaired balance, headache, nausea, and vomiting, although symptoms vary by person and the level of impact to the head. If a concussion is suspected, it’s best to get checked out quickly. A physical exam including vision, hearing loss, balance and coordination evaluations may be performed. With a severe impact, a CT or MRI may be required to check for swelling or bleeding in the brain. Once diagnosed, concussions require individual, tailored treatment plans based on the symptoms and severity of the concussion. Treatment to relieve symptoms and help the athlete return to normal activities may include medication, physical therapy and sometimes counseling.

“In addition to concussions, my practice focuses on sport-related injuries and nonsurgical treatment. This can include fractures, strains, sprains and other sport-related conditions. I have access to a diagnostic musculoskeletal ultrasound. This allows me to see muscles, joints and more to diagnose injuries quickly, and get treatment started,” England explained.

For more information or to make an appointment with Dr. England, call East Tennessee Medical Group in Alcoa at 865-984-3864.

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