In October, 1991, a 17 year-old high school football player was tackled on the last play of the first half of a varsity game and struck his head on the ground. During halftime intermission, he told a teammate that he felt ill and had a headache; he did not tell the coach. He played again during the third quarter and received several routine blows to his helmet during blocks and tackles. He then collapsed on the field and was taken to a local hospital in a coma. A computed tomography (CT) brain scan revealed diffuse swelling of the brain and a small subdural hematoma. He was transferred to a regional trauma center, where attempts to reduce elevated intracranial pressure were unsuccessful, and he was pronounced brain dead four days later.
Head injuries are the leading cause of death in sports. An average of eight football players a year dies from head injuries.
(Cantu, 1997) Known historically as a high-risk sport, football is responsible for the majority of sports-related concussions today. However, there has also been a growing awareness of head injuries in other sports such as soccer and hockey. (cdc.gov, Nov. 6, 2002) The following will discuss definitions associated with head concussions, causes of head concussions, prevention of concussions, and return to play guidelines.
A concussion is a syndrome involving an immediate and transient impairment in the ability of the brain to function properly. (Booher and Thibodeau, 2000) There is no general agreement as to the exact definition of a concussion. Retrograde amnesia is the loss of memory for events that occurred before the injury. Anterograde amnesia is the loss of memory for events occurring immediately after awakening. (Booher and Thibodeau, 2000) A subdural hematoma is a pooling of blood beneath the dura and this condition is the most frequent...