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How to Recognize and Treat Concussions

Is your head in the game? Concussions cannot be seen.

Have you been sidelined because of a concussion?

Effective Sept. 1, 2011, a concussion law in Minnesota requires all participating coaches and officials (public and private) to be trained to identify a concussion and pull athletes from any game or practice if they are displaying symptoms. These athletes also are not allowed back to play unless medically cleared.

What is a concussion?

A concussion is a mild head injury that can be caused by any forceful bump, blow or jolt to the head or body that results in rapid movement of the head. Many concussions go undetected because these injuries may or may not involve loss of consciousness.

Signs and symptoms of a concussion

  • Headache or “pressure” in the head
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Balance problems or dizziness
  • Feeling sluggish, hazy, foggy or groggy
  • Double or blurry vision
  • Difficulty paying attention
  • Memory problems
  • Confusion
  • Bothered by light or noise
  • Answers questions slowly

The importance of seeking medical attention

In rare cases, a dangerous clot may form on the brain in a person with a concussion and crowd the brain against the skull. This can increase the risk of further damaging the brain.

Seek medical attention if you experience:

  • A headache that gets worse and does not go away
  • Weakness, numbness or decreased coordination
  • Repeated nausea or vomiting
  • Slurred speech
  • Unusual behavior
  • A change in recognition of people or places
  • Seizures

For infants, seek medical attention if the child has any symptoms listed above, does not stop crying and cannot be consoled, or will not nurse or eat.

Treatment for a concussion

It is recommended that the player rest for at least seven days. Concussion symptoms may return without resting mentally and physically. This means limiting video games, texting, TV, reading and school work.

Return to play guidelines:

After resting for seven days without symptoms, you may begin:

  1. Low levels of physical activity (age appropriate): walking, light stationary bike riding, etc. If no concussion symptoms return, then the athlete may advance to step two after 24 hours of rest.
  2. Moderate levels of physical activity: brief jogging, reduced weight lifting, etc. If no concussion symptoms return, the athlete may advance to level three after 24 hours of rest.
  3. Regular, NONCONTACT, physical activity: running, weight lifting, noncontact sports drills, etc. If no concussion symptoms return, the athlete may advance to step four after 24 hours of rest.
  4. Full contact in controlled practice. If no concussion symptoms return, the athlete may advance to step five after 24 hours of rest. After this step, a sports clearance from a health care provider is required.
  5. Full contact in game.


Please contact Melissa Hjelle, LSW, Injury Prevention Specialist at 320-251-2700, ext. 52574 or at, with any questions regarding the current injury prevention programs and how they may benefit you or your organization.

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