David W. Kruse, MD - Certified Sports Medicine Physician <Orthopaedic Specialty Institute
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Sports Concussion

ImPACT, Credentialed Consultant

Sports Concussion Services:

  • Same or next-day sports concussion evaluation
  • Initial workup and management for sports concussion
  • Appropriate secondary specialist referrals as needed, for when a team approach is indicated:
    • Neuropsychology
    • Vestibular Rehabilitation
    • Neurology
    • Psychiatry
    • Return to sport training
  • Return to school and sport decision-making

A sports concussion is a brain injury event that shakes the head violently in the skull. It may occur due to direct impact to the head or due to an impact to the body that leads to a sudden whiplash movement of the head. It occurs usually in sports such as football, soccer, ice hockey, and lacrosse, but can occur in multiple other sports. It is an injury that does not lead to any visible or detectable physical damage to the brain but affects the functional ability of the brain.  Doctors who are trained in diagnosing and managing sports concussions should assess the injury.

Sports concussions lead to a number of symptoms that may occur at the time of the injury or soon after. Possible symptoms, among others, may include:

  • Headache or “Pressure in Head”
  • Nausea and Vomiting
    • Dizziness or Balance Problems
  • Sensitivity to Light or Sound
  • Feeling Slowed Down or Drowsiness
  • Difficulty Concentrating or Remembering
  • Confusion
  • Irritability, Sadness, or Anxiety

Concussions can also have an effect on the cognitive ability of the brain.  This may affect short and long-term memory, the ability to concentrate, and the performance of complex thought processes.

Symptoms should be temporary and self-resolving if the concussion event is treated appropriately.  The average amount of time for symptom recovery is ~7 days.

Immediately following a concussion injury, complete rest from both physical and mental activities is crucial for an adequate recovery. Mental activities that require thinking and concentration such as studying, going to school or work and even activities like reading, watching television or playing computer games should be stopped until further direction is given.  Premature return to cognitive and physical activities will hamper the healing of the brain, cause a prolonged period of recovery, and increase the risk for another concussion.

Following symptom resolution, the subsequent treatment of the concussion event and progression back to sport activity should follow a step-by-step progression modeled after international consensus guidelines.  The time for progression back to sport is different for each individual athlete and can be affected by a number of factors, such as history of prior concussions, co-existing medical conditions, severity of symptoms, and the initial treatment plan.

Cognitive deficiencies can be a significant sign of a concussion event.  Therefore it can be very helpful to know an individual athlete’s baseline cognitive performance.  A baseline cognitive concussion test measures the normal function of an athlete’s brain prior to a concussion event.  In the event a concussion injury occurs, the same cognitive test can be repeated.  The post-concussion test is then compared to the athlete’s original baseline to see if there are any cognitive deficits from the concussion.  This provides an extra tool for the evaluation and treatment of an athlete at the time of the concussion.

Awareness among athletes, coaches and parents about sports concussions is crucial for appropriate recognition and diagnosis, prevention of complications, and a smooth return to both school and sport.

Dr. Kruse's Educational Presentations on Sports Concussion

International Gymnastics Concussion Policy. Zoom Presentation. Huntington Beach, CA. June 2020.

Concussion Management. Powerpoint. Little League Coaches Education. Orange, CA. February 2020.

International Gymnastics Concussion Policy. Powerpoint. FIG Medical Commission Meeting. Stuttgart, Germany. October 2019.

After the Impact - Care of the Concussed Athlete. Powerpoint. UC Irvine SMIG Lecture Series. Irvine, CA. September 2019.

Sports Concussion Management: An Update. Powerpoint. CHOC Caring for the Young Athlete Conference. Orange, CA. June 2019.

Concussion Management - After the Impact. Powerpoint. FWATA Annual Conference. San Diego, CA. April 2019.

Concussion Management Strategies - Gymnastics. Presentation. 2018 World Gymnastics Championships Medical Meeting. Doha, Qatar. October 2018.

Sports Concussion Management. Powerpoint. St. Margaret’s Episcopal School. San Juan Capistrano, CA. October 2017.

Concussion - Return to Play Criteria. OSI/Biodex Concussion Conference. Orange, CA. March 2016.

Sports Concussion Management. Powerpoint. OSI Physical Therapy. Orange, CA. December 2015.

Sports Concussion in the Field. Powerpoint. Hoag Neurosciences Concussion Conference. Irvine, CA. September 2015.

Sports Concussion Management. Presentation. Marque Medical Group. Newport Beach, CA. August 2015.

Concussion - What’s Your Plan?. National Webinar. USA Gymnastics. Orange, CA. November 2014.

Concussion - What’s Your Plan?. Powerpoint. USAG National Congress, Pittsburgh, PA. August 2014.

Update - Concussion Management. Powerpoint. California Academy of Family Physicians, Irvine, CA. May 2014.

Concussion Management. Concordia University, Athletic Training Education, Irvine, CA. April 2014.

Concussion Management. CSU Fullerton, Athletic Training Lecture Series, Orange, CA. March 2014.

Concussion Baseline Testing. Presentation. Sports Concussion Awareness Workshop. Tustin, CA. March 2013.

Sideline Evaluation of Sports Concussion. Presentation. Sports Concussion Awareness Workshop. Tustin, CA. March 2013.

Concussion Management. Powerpoint. Chapman ATEP Conference, Orange, CA. September 2012.

Concussion Mangement. Powerpoint. UC Irvine Family Medicine Noon Conference, Orange, CA. May 2012.

Concussion Management. Powerpoint. Rosary High School. Orange, CA. March 2012.

Concussion & Return to School. Powerpoint. The Pegasus School. Huntington Beach, CA. February 2012.

Sideline Evaluation of Sports Concussion. Presentation/Practicum. 2nd Annual Orange County Concussion in Youth & High School Sports Summit. Irvine, CA. June 2011.

Sports Concussion - An Update. Powerpoint. UC Irvine Student-Athletic Trainers Lecture Series. Irvine, CA. February 2011.

Sports Concussion - An Update. Powerpoint. UC Irvine Emergency Medicine Resident Conference. Orange, CA. December 2010.

Sports Concussion - An Update. Powerpoint. UC Irvine Department of Orthopaedic Surgery Resident Didactic. Orange, CA. October 2010.

Sports Concussion - An Update. Speaker. UC Irvine Neurology and Neurosurgery Symposium. Orange, CA. September 2010.

Sports Concussion - Practical Management. Speaker. UC Irvine-CHOC Children’s Sports Concussion Conference. Santa Ana, CA. August 2010.

Sports Concussion - An Update. Presentation. UC Irvine Family Medicine Update Course. Orange, CA. June 2010.

Sports Concussion - An Update. Powerpoint. UCI Family Medicine Resident Noon Conference. Santa Ana, CA. April 2010.

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