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A member asked:

I have had concussions in the past but i was wondering if it would be alright for me to play sports again? if i do choose to play sports what could happen?

3 doctor answers4 doctors weighed in
Dr. Justin Rothmier
Sports Medicine 19 years experience
I : I agree with dr. Christensen that participation should be limited until all symtpoms have resolved. At that point a step wise return to play is best, where initially non-contact activities like jumping jacks and running are done to ellicit any underlying symtpoms that may have been missed. This would be followed by a graded return back to contact sports. This is done best under the supervision of an athletic trainer or physician who specializes in concussion management. Not every one responds at the same speed. Often younger athletes have symtpoms that linger upwards of several weeks. If your concussion(s) occured long ago and you are completely recovered, there are still some risks associated with repetitive concussions such as learning disabilities and even traumatic brain encephalopathy. I would recommend you discuss your return to participation with a sports medicine provider if this is the case with you.
Dr. Stephen Christensen
Family Medicine 35 years experience
Concussions : Concussions can be complex injuries, and several classification schemes are used to evaluate the extent of brain trauma following a head injury. The centers for disease control and prevention tool kit on concussion for high school coaches (see link below) is one handy reference for evaluating traumatic brain injuries on the sidelines and for determining whether an athlete is ready to return to play. No matter what classification scheme or toolkit is used, however, no athlete should resume participation until he/she is completely symptom-free, meaning you can't have persistent headaches, dizziness, amnesia, impaired cognitive function, blunted affect, irritability, sleep problems, delayed verbal or ocular (eye motion) responses, impaired orientation, or any other condition associated with head trauma. Athletes who return to sports before the effects of a prior concussion have resolved are at risk for serious brain injury, brain swelling, and death. Even if you have completely recovered from a prior concussion, repeated concussions over time can result in a condition called repetitive head injury syndrome, which is characterized by tremors, memory and cognitive impairment, and other long-term neurologic and functional problems (think muhammad ali). http://www.cdc.gov/traumaticbraininjury/index.html.
Dr. James Natalie
Sports Medicine 16 years experience
Talk to your doc: A history of concussion does not necessarily make it unsafe to return to sports provided you have completely recovered from the initial concussion. This is a good discussion to have with a sports medicine physician after reviewing your complete medical history and performing an exam. Only after this assessment should you make the decision to return to sports

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Last updated Oct 4, 2016
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