Heads Up on Head Injury

Get the facts about concussions and help keep athletes safe. All concussions are serious and can happen in any sport, even when the athlete wears a helmet. Athletes, parents and coaches can see Sanford Orthopedics and Sports Medicine for expert concussion education and care.

A concussion is a brain injury caused by a blow to the head or body. This injury changes an athlete’s behavior, thinking and physical functioning. Pull any athlete reporting symptoms of a concussion immediately from play. It’s better for an athlete to miss one game instead of a whole season.

If an athlete needs medical help for a concussion, the Sanford Orthopedics and Sports Medicine team is here to help. Our team includes physicians, neuropsychologists, physical therapists and occupational therapists, all with advanced training in concussion care.

Our program includes:

  • National-level concussion research and return-to-play guidelines
  • Certified ImPACT consultants
  • Baseline and post-injury testing
  • Concussion services backed by Sanford Research

How to Recognize a Concussion

It’s estimated that four million sports and recreation-related concussions occur each year. Many of these dangerous brain injuries go unrecognized and do not receive treatment. Watch for these symptoms after an athlete gets hit on the head or body. If they experience one or more symptoms, they may have a concussion.

Symptoms of a concussion:

  • Memory and concentration problems
  • Headache
  • Dizziness and balance issues
  • Confusion
  • Sensitivity to light and noise
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Double or blurry vision
  • Loss of consciousness (even briefly)

Some athletes will avoid reporting their concussion-like symptoms to keep playing. Educate players on the importance of self-reporting if they feel something is wrong. One of the worst things any athlete can do for their health is to keep playing after a concussion.

What to Do in Case of a Concussion

If you think an athlete has a possible concussion, remove them from the game immediately. Depending on the severity of the injury, athletes should avoid strenuous physical and mental activities until their symptoms go away.

It is important to get plenty of rest and sleep after a concussion. Athletes can safely sleep after a concussion as long as they can hold and follow a conversation beforehand.

Some athletes may need professional concussion care services. Seek emergency medical help if an athlete has any of these symptoms:

  • Loss of consciousness for longer than 30 seconds
  • A headache that dramatically worsens over time
  • Can’t be woken up
  • Increased confusion and mood changes
  • Can’t recognize familiar people or places
  • Seizure
  • Repeated vomiting
  • Slurred speech

Concussion Services Resources

Know how to help athletes stay safe during game time. We have concussion resources that you can bring to the sidelines.

Download our guides for coaches, parents and athletes:

Find a concussion services specialist at Sanford Health locations in South Dakota, North Dakota or Minnesota. Need to be seen today? Our walk-in clinics can give you specialized care without an appointment.

Podcast: Concussions and sports medicine

Find a Location

Find a Doctor

Find A Doctor

Find A Location

Learn More

Sanford Health News

Classes & Events