Concussion in Athletes

Concussions in athletes are extremely common. In fact, about 3.8 million concussions occur each year in the U.S. from sports-related injuries. The Center for Disease Control estimates that 5-10% of athletes will experiences a concussion in any given sports season. Many of these injuries go unreported and undiagnosed leading to mismanagement and premature return to activity. The mismanagement of concussion can lead to prolonged symptoms and long-term consequences.

The University of Michigan is one of only a handful of comprehensive programs in the country dedicated to the neurological concerns of athletes through its multidisciplinary NeuroSport program. Visit the NeuroSport page to learn more.

What to Do if You Suspect a Concussion

It is important to be evaluated by a healthcare professional trained in the diagnosis and management of concussion. Do not try to judge the seriousness of the injury yourself. If an athlete is participating in a sporting event at the time of the injury they should be removed from their game or practice. They should avoid any activities that would put them at risk of another head injury.

Before a youth athlete can return to sports they must be symptom-free and cleared by a health care provider as required by Michigan law. Learn more about Michigan Sports Concussion Law.

If you suspect a concussion, please contact NeuroSport at 734-930-7400 to be evaluated.

When to Go to the Emergency Room

Seek immediate medical attention or call 911 if you experience or witness any of the following symptoms:

  • Look drowsy or cannot be woken up
  • Headaches that severely worsen
  • Seizures
  • Slurred speech
  • Increasing confusion
  • Difficulty recognizing people or places
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Weakness or numbness
  • Persistent vomiting
  • Unusual behavior changes

Concussion Myths

Myth: You must be hit on the head to have a concussion.
Fact: Any force to the body which is transmitted to the head can cause a concussion. One example would be a whiplash injury of the neck.

Myth: You have to lose consciousness to have a concussion.
Fact: Over 90% of people who sustain a concussion do not lose consciousness.

Myth: You must have imaging of your brain after having a concussion.
Fact: Your doctor will determine if imaging is needed. CT scans and MRIs will not show evidence of a concussion.

Myth: Wearing a helmet will prevent concussion.
Fact: Wearing helmets and other protective equipment may protect you from more serious injuries, however, no equipment can eliminate the risk of concussion.
    
Myth: The symptoms of a concussion begin right away.
Fact: Not all concussion symptoms will develop in the minutes immediately following an injury. Many will develop over the hours after a concussion. This is why it is important to remove an athlete from play and have them evaluated by a healthcare professional if there is any concern they may have suffered a concussion .
    
Myth: Once an athlete’s headache is gone they can return to their sport.
Fact: Headaches are one of many symptoms of a concussion. There are other symptoms that can persist once a headache has resolved. An athlete should only be cleared to return to sport by a healthcare professional who is familiar with concussion and its many signs and symptoms.

Remember that healing takes time and that it is important to get adequate sleep, eat healthy, and drink plenty of water during your recovery. After a period of rest for 24-48 hours patients can gradually become more active, however, this should be directed by your physician.

NeuroSport: Dedicated to Concussion in Athletes

The mission of U-M NeuroSport is to provide individualized care for athletes of all levels with an emphasis on acute concussion care and potential long-term consequences of mild head trauma.

By drawing on the resources of Michigan Medicine and the rich athletic tradition of the historic NCAA University of Michigan athletic program, we specialize in the treatment and prevention of neurological sports injuries, as well as the management of primary neurological diseases that affect athletic performance.

Visit the NeuroSport page to learn more about NeuroSport services and the Sports Neurology Fellowship and research.

Make an Appointment

To request an appointment or to get more information about Michigan NeuroSport, please call 734-930-7400 or send an email request to neurosport@umich.edu, with your name and phone number, and a team member will get back to you within two business days to schedule an appointment for evaluation and treatment of your athlete.