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Second Impact Syndrome, Though Rare, Poses Catastrophic Risk To Concussed High School Athletes

Second-impact syndrome occurs when a high school athlete who sustains a head injury - often a concussion or worse injury, such as a cerebral contusion (bruised brain) - sustains a second head injury before symptoms associated with the first injury have cleared. The condition, while rare, causes a sharp increase in intracranial pressure that is almost always fatal, says Dr. Robert Cantu.

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Multiple Concussion History Requires Cautious Management

Dr. Robert Cantu says it is not just the number of concussions an athlete suffers that are important in determining a course of treatment, but their severity, how close together they occured in time, and how severe the blow that caused them.  "There is no magic number" of concussions disqualifying an athlete from further play that season or is considered career-ending, Dr. Cantu explains.  Individualized management is required which takes into account the totality of circumstances.

No Return to Play If Still Have Concussion Symptoms

Sports concussion expert Dr. Cantu says that no athlete should be allowed to return to play sports after a concussion if still experiencing symptoms.

Concussion Signs and Symptoms

There are approximately twenty-five signs and symptoms, says Dr. Robert Cantu, that coaches, athletic trainers, health care professionals, parents and athletes should look for which may indicate that an athlete has suffered a concussion.

Concussions: Proactive Parents Needed

Parents need to be proactive in order to minimize the risks that their child will suffer a concussion while playing sports and, more important, is not allowed to return to play too soon.

Concussion: Seek Additional Testing If Symptoms Don't Clear

Dr. Robert Cantu recommends parents seek additional testing and evaluation if their child's post-concussion signs and symptoms do not clear within a week to 10 days or increase in number or severity.

Neuropsychological Testing Helpful in Concussion Management

Computerized baseline pre-injury and post-injury neuropsychological testing can be an important part of concussion management, says Dr. Robert Cantu, particularly in terms of identifying cognitive impairment, but  isn't foolproof, does not allow a "red light/green light" decision on return to play, and is only one piece of the assessment puzzle.

Recognizing Concussion Signs and Symptoms: Advice for Parents

Dr. Robert Cantu says it is extremely important that parents and athletes recognize the signs and symptoms of a concussion.  Not only do athletes need to self-report symptoms, says Dr. Cantu, but they should let the coaching and medical staff know if a teammate is experiencing symptoms.  It just might save his life.
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