This page has information to help protect you, your friends and your teammates from concussion or other serious brain injury. Use this information to learn how to spot a concussion and what to do if a concussion occurs.
A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury (also called TBI) caused by a bump, blow or jolt to the head or a hit to the body that causes the head and brain to move quickly back and forth. This fast movement can cause the brain to bounce around or twist in the skill, creating chemical changes in the brain and sometimes stretching and damaging the brain cells.
There are many ways to help reduce the risk of a concussion, such as wearing a helmet and other protective gear. Wearing a properly-fitted helmet can lower the chances of the most serious types of brain or head injury. However, there is no “concussion-proof” helmet. Even if you’re wearing a helmet, you should avoid hits to the head.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers general guidelines and sport-by-sport tips and suggestions for preventing concussion. The best way to stay safe is by teaching athletes ways to lower their chances of getting a concussion.
People who suffer concussions often show or report one or more of the signs and symptoms listed to the right, but sometimes they say they just “don’t feel right” after a bump, blow or jolt to the head or body.
In rare cases, a dangerous collection of blood (hematoma) may form on the brain after the bump, blow or jolt to the head or body, and this can squeeze the brain against the skull. Call 9-1-1 or go an emergency room immediately if you or your teammates witness any of these danger signs after a bump, blow or jolt to the head:
- One pupil larger than the other
- Drowsiness or inability to wake up
- A headache that gets worse or won’t go away
- Slurred speech, weakness, numbness, or decreased coordination
- Repeated vomiting or nausea, convulsions or seizures (shaking or twitching)
- Unusual behavior, increased confusion, restlessness, or agitation
- Loss of consciousness (passed out/knocked out). Even a brief loss of consciousness should be taken very seriously.
- When in doubt, sit it out! If playing a sport or engaging in another activity, stop immediately.
- Don’t hide it! Seek medical attention.
- Do not play again until seen by a health provider who is experienced in evaluating for a concussion.
- Return to playing only after your healthcare provider has given permission.
Do not try to judge the severity of the injury yourself. Only a trained health provider should assess for possible concussion. Although concussion signs and symptoms sometimes show up soon after the injury, you may not know how serious the concussion is at first. Some symptoms may not show up for hours or days.
The brain needs time to heal after a concussion. Your return to sports and other activities should be a gradual process that is carefully managed and monitored. Since UMass club sports teams do not have sports medicine personnel to evaluate club athletes, Campus Recreation offers the following suggestions:
- A student exhibiting signs of a concussion CANNOT return to participation until cleared by a physician.
- Alert athlete’s advisor of the injury, symptoms and cognitive deficits so that the advisor may work with academic staff to request support.
- After being cleared, a stepped plan to return to participation in club sports must be followed. A detailed guide to the required stepped reintegration plan can be found in the Club Sports Handbook.