Athletes often dismiss the concussion symptoms of a headache or dizziness after a fall or hit to the head. A field evaluation by a Sentara certified athletic trainer on site at some area schools can quickly assess an athlete to determine if a concussion has occurred and begin steps to minimize the impact. Left untreated, serious complications can arise. That's just what happened to Jordon Sink, a football player for Western Branch High School.
Knocked Out of the Game by a Concussion
During football practice on Thursday September 17th Western Branch High School athlete Jordon Sink suffered two sequential concussions, resulting in a life changing experience. Despite being educated about the signs and symptoms of concussions, Jordon did not notify the high school’s Certified Athletic Trainer when he received a relatively hard hit that left him with a mild headache. Jordon says, “I didn’t think it was anything serious so I just kept practicing.” Within thirty minutes of the first impact, Jordon received a second hard hit which left him scared and extremely disoriented. At that point, the athletic trainer became aware of the situation and performed an assessment. Displaying signs of memory loss, focal impairments, and left leg paresis, an ambulance was called and Jordon was taken to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital. Following a CT scan which ruled out a more serious brain injury, Jordon was diagnosed with having suffered two concurrent concussions.
Sustaining repeated concussions in a short period of time, even when mild, can have serious and sometimes life threatening repercussions. Such an injury greatly increases risk for long term cognitive impairments, and post-concussive symptoms such as head ache, dizziness, difficulty concentrating, etc.
In Jordon’s case, his post-concussive symptoms were so severe that he was unable to attend school for nearly a month, did not return to football, and was referred to a concussion specialist.
As a means of monitoring his symptoms and progress Jordon’s physician had him participate in the ImPACT (Immediate Post-Concussive Assessment and Cognitive Testing) program. This computer based program provides healthcare professionals with an objective assessment tool based on reaction times, memory recall, and a self report of 22 symptoms.
Jordon notes that “ImPACT is a really cool program. It let my doctor see that I was actually making progress even though it was taking a long time.” Using this data, Jordon’s physician eventually allowed him to return to school.
Reflecting on this experience, Jordon says, “I wish I would have stopped after the first hit because I never would have been in this situation. It’s been three months now and I still have problems with head aches and concentrating.” When asked what advice he would give to other athletes he said, “Take concussions more seriously. They aren’t a joke. Also, learn how to hit properly.” Although Jordon wants to return to playing football he knows that he is now more susceptible to sustaining another concussion and he doesn’t know if it’s really worth going through this again.
The previous article was submitted by Katherine L. Sullivan, ATC, certified athletic trainer at Sentara Great Bridge Therapy Clinic and Western Branch High School.