Sports-Related Concussions in Minnesota High School Athletes
Concussions are a type of traumatic brain injury. While sports-related concussions are not necessarily different from concussions caused by other activities, these brain injuries disproportionately affect youth.
This is Your Brain on Sports: Measuring Concussions in High School Athletes in the Twin Cities Metropolitan Area (PDF). (Reprinted with permission, Minnesota Medical Association)
Symptoms of concussion can include:
- Loss of consciousness (although loss of consciousness does not always occur with a concussion)
- Nausea or vomiting
- Double or blurry vision
- Sensitivity to noise or light
- Concentration or memory problems
- Feeling sluggish, hazy, foggy or groggy
- Mood, behavior, or personality changes
It is important to note that this is not an exhaustive list, and other symptoms may occur following a concussion. Symptoms also may not occur immediately following the concussion. If an athlete is suspected to have a concussion, they should seek medical attention right away.
Minnesota Statute 121A.38 states that coaches or school officials should remove a youth athlete from participating in any athletic activity when the athlete:
- Shows signs, symptoms, or behaviors consistent with a concussion; or
- Is suspected of sustaining a concussion
The statute also indicates that when an athlete is removed from participating in sports due to a concussion, they may not return to play until they:
- No longer show signs, symptoms or behaviors consistent with concussion
- Are evaluated by a health care provider trained and experienced in evaluating and managing concussions, and the provider gives the athlete written permission to resume participation.
It is also important to check with the student’s health care provider and school on policies and protocols that are in place for students who have had a concussion and are returning to school. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s HEADS UP Returning to School information, most students will likely only need help through informal academic changes upon returning to the classroom. However, some may need more formal support services, such as a Response to Intervention Protocol (RTI), 504 Plan, or Individualized Education Plan (IEP).
MDH Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) Registry
Since 1993, MDH has maintained a registry of Minnesotans who have been hospitalized with a traumatic brain injury. From this registry, the Health Department provides information to each person to let them know about the Minnesota Brain Injury Alliance (MBIA), which connects individuals with available programs and services through Resource Facilitation.
However, most sports-related concussions are not captured in the registry because many patients are seen by athletic trainers, in urgent care or in clinics, rather than being hospitalized. Because most people with a sports-related concussion are not hospitalized, these individuals are not being directed to the MBIA through the MDH TBI Registry.
While the majority of concussions resolve relatively quickly, some individuals will experience persistent symptoms and may benefit from being connected with these specialized programs and services.
With the brain still developing at these ages, the consequences can be much greater, and with this information, we can provide guidance to appropriate resources for those affected, schools, athletic trainers and school nurses.
For more information
Contact Leslie Seymour, MD, MPH, Epidemiologist, Minnesota Department of Health Leslie.Seymour@state.mn.us.
Learn more about Traumatic Brain and Spinal Cord Injury.
Learn more about brain injuries in youth from the CDC’s HEADS UP initiatives.