Concussions & Student Athletes
About 10 percent of athletes participating in contact sports will experience a concussive brain injury. When they happen, allowing time for the brain to heal is key. Whether an athlete has a concussion (or even if one is suspected), it's important to discontinue play or practice.
Facts to Consider
Whether the student is participating in football, soccer, cheerleading or any other sport, please keep in mind the following:
- Most will recover quickly and fully. But for some athletes, the effects of concussion can last for days, weeks, or longer.
- A repeat concussion that occurs before the brain recovers from the first can slow recovery or increase the chances for long-term problems.
- Sometimes people wrongly believe that playing injured exhibits strength and courage. Some athletes may also try to hide their symptoms.
- Don’t let your athlete convince you that he or she is “just fine” or that he or she can “tough it out.”
- Emphasize to athletes and parents that playing with a concussion is dangerous.
- Discourage others from pressuring injured athletes to play.
- Young children and teens are more likely to get a concussion and take longer to recover than adults.
- Athletes who have ever had a concussion are at increased risk for another concussion.
- Recognition and proper response to concussions when they first occur can help prevent further injury or even death.
Texas House Bill 2038 (also called Natasha’s Law) supports concussion protocols for schools in Texas, including when to remove student athletes from play, as well as return-to-play protocols.
Action Steps for Coaches
If you suspect an athlete has a concussion, it’s important to take action:
- Remove the athlete from play.
- Ensure the athlete is seen by a physician experienced in evaluating concussions. Do not try to judge the seriousness of the injury yourself, per Texas laws.
- Inform the athlete’s parents or guardians about the possible concussion and give them a fact sheet on concussion.
- Keep the athlete out of play the day of the injury. An athlete should only return to play with permission from a physician who is experienced in evaluating for concussion.
In rare cases, repeat concussions can result in brain swelling or permanent brain damage. It can even be fatal.