The medical staff at OAA believes in the positive aspects of participating in sports but is also aware that sports don’t come without risks. Concussion is unfortunately one of these risks. As part of National Concussion Awareness Day, we held a question and answer session with Jill R. Crosson, D.O., sports medicine physician at OAA, to help spread awareness about the symptoms to watch for and treatment options available.

Question: How do concussions occur?

Answer: Concussions can occur in many ways including sports injuries, car accidents, falls, and can even occur from severe whiplash.

Question: What are some common concussion symptoms to look for?

Answer: One of the most common symptoms we see is headache, however, not every headache is concussion and not every concussion results in a headache. We see symptoms that fall into four categories:

  • physical,
  • cognitive,
  • emotional,
  • and sleep.

With concussions, you can see a variety of symptoms initially like headache, dizziness, trouble sleeping, fogginess, and anxiousness.

Question: Should I go see a physician if I think I have concussion?

Answer: If you are concerned that you may be suffering from concussion, it is always important to see a physician. At OAA Orthopaedic Specialists we promote seeing a medical provider who is proficient in concussion management and cares for them often. 

Question: What type of tests are done to determine concussion?

Answer: There is no one diagnostic tool for concussion. We go by symptoms and a physical examination to evaluate our patients. Neuropsychological testing may also be performed by a neuropsychologist or to a lesser extent, computer-based testing.

Imaging like MRIs or CT scans are normal in concussion, as concussion is NOT a structural injury (as opposed to a skull fracture or brain bleed, which is a more severe form of head injury).
Functional MRIs are being evaluated to test for concussion, but these are used more in an academic setting for research at the current time.

Question: Are there different severities of concussion?

Answer: We have moved away from grading concussions, but there are different severities, which present themselves throughout concussion management. Certain deficits found on an exam can lead to a longer recovery time for patients.

Question: How long does it take to recover?

Answer: Full recovery can be different for everyone. People with certain risk factors like a history of anxiety, depression, migraines, and ADHD have been shown to have prolonged recoveries.

Question: Is there anything I can do to prevent a concussion from happening to me?

Answer: If you are an athlete there is a risk you take with playing sports, so you can never remove the risk altogether. We believe that the power of sports and the benefits of playing greatly outweigh the risks. At OAA we recommend athletes work on their neck and core strength along with their balance. In addition, proper technique should be stressed in all sports, especially for tackle football.

For more information about the symptoms and treatment options of concussion, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Crosson or another member of the Sports Medicine Institute, call (610) 973-6200.