It’s not easy to detect a concussion.
Cleveland Indians outfielder Bradley Zimmer underscored how difficult it can be. After attempting a diving catch in a Sept. 2 game against the Detroit Tigers, Zimmer left the game. He complained of blurry vision, but passed the initial concussion test. The team was uncertain if he was concussed, but it put him on concussion protocol 2 days later.
“Over 50 percent of concussions don’t get recognized initially,” Dr. Congeni said recently on the Ray Horner Morning Show on WAKR-AM.
“One of the most common ones is young athletes who present with double vision, blurred vision or sensitivity to light,” he said. “For whatever reason, a lot of people don’t think of that as the possible presentation of concussion. They look for someone to have a headache, memory loss and confusion.”
Those latter symptoms occur frequently, but visual changes are also common. “Over 20 percent of concussions present with visual symptoms,” Dr. Congeni said.
Symptoms can also be confounding because they may happen right away, or can show up later. “You could see 5 or 10 concussions in a week, and they may present 5 different ways,” Dr. Congeni said.
Concussions can affect balance or hearing or cause fatigue, nausea, vomiting, slurred speech, sleep disturbances, irritability or inability to concentrate. “Many of the different jobs the brain does can be affected by a brain injury or concussion,” Dr. Congeni said.
He urges youth sports leagues to have certified athletic trainers on hand because they are best equipped to recognize symptoms. Many high schools have certified athletic trainers at games, but junior high/middle schools, travel leagues and other non school-affiliated leagues usually do not.