Student-athletes who have been diagnosed with a concussion will be monitored daily by the Athletic Trainers. They will complete a "Symptom Score" sheet that includes 22 different signs and symptoms people may experience with concussions. Headache, dizziness, disruption of sleep, sensitivity to light and sound, as well as difficulty concentrating in school are among the most commonly recorded symptoms. Every concussion is different and will present slightly differently. The typical return-to-sport time is about a week to 10 days, but as every concussion presents differently, they all heal differently as well.
While healing, athletes are encouraged to avoid activities that increase their symptoms and get plenty of "brain rest". This includes little-to-no video games, texting, computer time, and reading...all of these activities require the eyes to intently focus on the activity...and usually increase symptoms. If watching television or movies doesn't bother the individual, they are permitted to do so, as these activities usually allow the brain to "zone out".
Once the athletes are symptom-free through an entire day of school (without taking pain relief medication), they will wait 24-48 hours before taking the post-injury ImPACT test, just to make sure there are no lingering symptoms. Athletes in higher-risk, contact sports are required to take this baseline prior to the start of the season. We will use this baseline to compare the post-injury scores against to make a determination as to whether or not the athlete has fully healed cognitively. This tool, along with a visit from Dr. Silvis, will help to make the final decision on progressing with the return to play protocol.
Our standard return to play protocol involves the following steps, each performed progressively with approximately 24 hours in between each step. If any concussion-like symptoms occur during a phase, it is immediately stopped and the Athletic Trainer will wait an appropriate amount of time before attempting this phase again.
Phase 1: Exertion (cardiovascular activity in a controlled environment; usually running on a treadmill)
Phase 2: No contact, sports-specific activities
Phase 3: Light contact, sports-specific activities/light practice (no live scrimmage)
Phase 4: Full contact, full practice, including live scrimmage
Phase 5: Return to game
Signs and Symptoms of a Concussion: