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Vital Signs


Vital Signs

Summer 2009

What to Do When Hurt on the Playing Field


UCLA Health Vital Signs Summer 2009 Issue: What to Do When Hurt on the Playing FieldMost sports-related head injuries are mild concussions that typically will resolve without serious complications, but even a seemingly minor head injury should be evaluated by a physician and monitored closely, says John DiFiori, M.D., chief of the Division of Sports Medicine in the UCLA Department of Family Medicine.

Symptoms of a concussion are not always immediately evident, and the onset can be delayed even hours after the event, Dr. DiFiori explains.

Athletes suspected of having a concussion should stop playing and be evaluated as soon as possible, preferably on site. In some cases, what may seem initially to be a mild concussion may in fact be a more serious head injury. If such symptoms as prolonged loss of consciousness or persistent problems with speech, vision or coordination occur, or if symptoms steadily worsen, immediate medical attention should be sought.

Once the diagnosis of a concussion is confirmed, the athlete should rest from physical activity until his or her symptoms have completely resolved. At that point, the athlete should undergo a period of gradual increase in activity over several days under the supervision of a healthcare professional to ensure that symptoms do not recur prior to resuming full sports activity.

Signs and symptoms of a concussion include:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Feeling in a “fog”
  • Difficulty concentrating or remembering
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Sensitivity to light or sounds
  • Feeling off balance
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Amnesia

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