Sports-related traumatic head injuries

Sports-related head injuries are so common that they are the second leading cause of injury after motor vehicle accidents. Often when we hear the word “concussion,” we associate it with a sports injury. 

But how critical can these injuries be, and are there long-term effects of a head injury? Every athlete and family member needs to become educated on head injuries because long-term consequences result in permanent damage. 

Sometimes injuries are so severe they require post-acute rehabilitation. Rehabilitation programs aim to help athletes heal and regain many skills so they can return to their (as close as possible) pre-injury state. 


How Do I Know My Athlete Has a Head Injury?

Sometimes you may not know your athlete has suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI) initially. One of the most common signs is a change in mental status. Other symptoms can include:

  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Memory Concerns
  • Sleeping Difficulties

If you are suspicious of a TBI, it is imperative that the athlete continues to play and is evaluated by a medical professional as soon as possible. 

A doctor may perform a thorough evaluation which may include neurocognitive testing. They will be looking for baseline functioning in areas such as memory, problem-solving, and attention. Loved ones can often assist by working with the professional to note any changes in these areas as the evaluation is performed. 


The Levels of Sports-Related Head Injuries

Some professionals use a grading system to classify a head injury and then determine when an athlete is ready to play again. The system consists of five different levels:

  • Level one- Mild trauma to the head such as a contusion or laceration 
  • Level two- An increase in symptoms. The athlete may experience symptoms such as headaches or dizziness.
  • Level three- Mild TBI where some change in mental status may be seen. The athlete may even have a temporary loss of consciousness. 
  • Level flour- A TBI where the patient experiences a loss of consciousness for over a minute but under 5 minutes. They may also experience some amount of memory loss. 
  • Level five- A severe TBI that can even be life-threatening. There may be bleeding in the brain or increased intracranial pressure. Athletes who lose consciousness for over 5 minutes or have amnesia for more than 24 hours can be considered in this category. 

If the patient has a more severe injury such as a level four or five, they may require more intensive rehab at reputable neuro-rehabilitation facilities


When Can My Athlete Return to Play?

You never want to rush the athlete to return to play after a head injury. They can be at risk for post-concussive syndrome, where multiple head injuries are sustained on top of one another, putting them at serious risk of severe damage. 

Their doctor will determine when or if they can return to their sport after suffering a TBI. The most critical factor is their health and safety always. 


Where Can I Find Rehab for a Brain Injury? 

NeuLife Rehab is a residential post-acute rehab facility specializing in traumatic brain injury rehabilitation, neurological disorder rehab and more. Our skilled team provides rehabilitation to patients with many types of brain injury, including sports-related traumatic brain injuries. The goal is always to help the patient return to their pre-injury state as much as possible. 

Neulife’s treatment programs include physical medicine and rehabilitation, medical management, psychiatric and neuropsychological services, physical, occupational, speech and cognitive therapies, behavioral, dietary, and vocational counseling, and more. 

Beautifully situated on 43 acres in Mount Dora, Florida, our inpatient rehab facility comprises over 60,000 square feet and contains 54 private rooms or suites.

If you believe your athlete can benefit from our services, please contact us today! You can also make a referral or schedule a tour!


The material contained on this site is for informational purposes only and DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THE PROVIDING OF MEDICAL ADVICE, and is not intended to be a substitute for independent professional medical judgment, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your health.


Dedicated to providing the highest caliber of care to individuals with brain injuries, NeuLife Rehabilitation is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF).
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