You’re covering a local high school football game when you witness a 16-year-old male get tackled after catching the ball and getting “blindsided.” He is slow to move but staggers to his feet. He appears confused and runs to the opposing team’s huddle, at which time the referee stops the game. You’re called to assess him on the sideline. What tools do you have to evaluate this patient, and how do you decide if they’re safe to return to the game? Does this patient need transport to the hospital?
When a football player has been knocked out and isn’t moving on the field, most EMS protocols recommend full immobilization and transport to the hospital. Over the years, however, the case of the player who is briefly knocked out or even dazed but is now awake and moving around has become tougher to manage. Even as late as 10 years ago, it wasn’t uncommon for patients who were diagnosed with a mild concussion to be returned to the game as soon as 15 minutes after their symptoms cleared. Research into concussions has shown that this isn’t in the best interest of the patient.
>> CDC Heads Up: Concussion in Youth Sports: www.cdc.gov/concussion/HeadsUp/youth.html
>> Center on Brain Injury Research & Training: www.cbirt.org