Signs of concussion to watch out for

Children may suffer a concussion while engaged in contact sports. If a concussion is suspected, seek help and do not rush to return to play, advises Dr Dinesh Sirisena, who says the symptoms are often subtle.
Children may suffer a concussion while engaged in contact sports. If a concussion is suspected, seek help and do not rush to return to play, advises Dr Dinesh Sirisena, who says the symptoms are often subtle.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

Sports-related concussion can be difficult to diagnose and manage as the symptoms are often subtle, said Dr Dinesh Sirisena, who is a consultant at the sports medicine department at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital.

What a concussion does is to temporarily impair how the brain functions and processes information. It is a brain injury.

A patient who has had a concussion may have physical symptoms such as a headache or drowsiness and mental symptoms like memory loss.

According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States, the concussion signs observed by parents include:

• Can't recall events prior to or after a hit or fall;

• Appears dazed or stunned;

• Moves clumsily;

• Answers questions slowly; and

• Loses consciousness, even if briefly.

Some of the symptoms reported by children who may have had a concussion include:

Sometimes, the symptoms show up only a day or a few days later. Parents should continue to check for signs of concussion right after the injury and for a few days after.

• Headache or "pressure" in head;

• Nausea or vomiting;

• Problems in balancing or dizziness, or double or blurry vision;

• Bothered by light or noise;

• Feeling sluggish, hazy, foggy or groggy;

• Confusion, concentration or memory problems; and

• Not "feeling right" or "feeling down".

Sometimes, the symptoms show up only a day or a few days later. Parents should continue to check for signs of concussion right after the injury and for a few days after. If the signs worsen, head to the emergency department right away, the CDC advised.

"If someone is having a persistent headache, nausea and a change in their overall demeanour, it may warrant a more urgent assessment," said Dr Sirisena. It is important to understand that a concussion is serious, he said. If it is suspected, seek help and do not rush to return to play, he stressed.

A concussion that occurs while the brain is still healing from the first injury can lead to long-term problems such as headaches or chronic fatigue, said Dr Sirisena.

In order to let your brain heal, complete rest, physically and mentally, is needed, he added.

Joyce Teo

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 04, 2018, with the headline 'Signs of concussion to watch out for'. Print Edition | Subscribe