Recovering From Concussion
Aaron Doster remembers sliding into second base. He thought he just had a bump on the head. Initially he showed no symptoms of a concussion.
Aaron, who is both a pitcher and outfielder, continued to play, even scoring a run and making a few outfield plays. Then he asked for a time-out, telling his coach he “didn’t feel right.” His coach sidelined Aaron for the remainder of the game and kept a close eye on him.
When he got home, his parents, Kelley and Gary Doster, noticed a disconcerting change in their son. “He just didn’t seem like himself,” recalled Kelley. “Normally he is talkative, and he was just standing off by himself.” Surprisingly, the next day Aaron didn’t remember hitting his head, scoring a run, riding the bus home or having dinner with his parents.
When his parents took him to school that day, they asked that he be evaluated by Kevin Allen, ATC, a certified athletic trainer. As part of Miami Valley Hospital’s Sports Medicine program, athletic trainers like Kevin are assigned to local schools. Throughout the school year, they work on-site, where their duties include evaluating injuries and supervising a teen’s return to play.
Kevin’s evaluation indicated that Aaron had suffered a minor concussion. The Dosters were relieved to learn that the memory loss Aaron experienced is not uncommon in cases of minor concussions.
The vast majority of bumped heads in sports don’t cause harm. However, when the head is hit hard enough and the brain suffers temporary neurological impairment, the result is a concussion, said Dusty Rhodes, DO, of the MVH Sports Medicine Center and a clinical associate professor at Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine.
When a player doesn’t see a hit coming, it’s more likely a serious concussion will happen. “If you’re blindsided, it takes much less force to cause damage,” explained Dr. Rhodes.
“Thirty years ago, we talked about concussions in terms of whether someone lost consciousness. If they didn’t, it wasn’t considered a big deal,” said Dr. Rhodes. “We now know that cognitive functions, such as perception, memory, and judgment, are affected—even when there is no loss of consciousness.”