Kimberly Harmon, MD, a leading expert on concussions in athletes, and lead author of the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine (AMSSM)’s latest position statement, Concussion in Sport, said there are five things you can ask your doctor if you have had a concussion or think you may have been concussed.
1. When should I get further evaluation? If you think you have been concussed, you should see someone knowledgeable about concussion who can make an assessment about whether or not you have had a concussion. 2. When should I think about going to the emergency room? Worsening symptoms such as persistent or worsening nausea or vomiting, severe worsening headache, worsening unsteadiness or loss of balance, amnesia, worsening mental status and worsening drowsiness. 3. Do I need a CT scan or MRI? Only if your doctor is concerned that something other than a concussion may be occurring.4. Should I be awakened frequently to make sure I’m OK after my concussion? No. Disrupting sleep in someone who has a concussion will worsen the symptoms. You should have a responsible person with you after a concussion. 5. When can I return to play? This decision is different for everybody and needs to be individualized and with guidance from a medical professional. In general, however, you can try some easy exercise only after all your symptoms have returned to their pre-injury baseline and then increase the intensity gradually as long as your symptoms don’t increase.
The American Medical Society for Sports Medicine (AMSSM) is a multi-disciplinary organization of physicians whose members are dedicated to education, research, collaboration and fellowship within the field of sports medicine. Founded in 1991, the AMSSM is now comprised of more than 2,400 sports medicine physicians whose goal is to provide a link between the rapidly expanding core of knowledge related to sports medicine and its application to patients in a clinical setting. For more information, visit amssm.org
Kimberly Harmon, MD, is a Professor in the Department of Family Medicine and Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine at the University of Washington in Seattle, WA, where she is associate head team physician and section head of sports medicine.
She has been on the football sideline as an athletic trainer or a team physician for the last 25 years and has witnessed the evolution in concussion evaluation and management. She is board certified in family practice with a Certificate of Added Qualifications (CAQ) in Sports Medicine. She is a past President of the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine Board of Directors and currently serves on the AMSSM Foundation Board of Directors.
She attended the University of Notre Dame, Indiana University School of Medicine, completed her residency in Family Medicine at Memorial Hospital in South Bend, IN, and her Primary Care Sports Medicine Fellowship at Ball Memorial Hospital in Muncie, IN. Her research interests include concussion, sudden cardiac death in athletes and the use of biologics in tendinopathy. She lectures nationally and internationally and serves on several editorial boards. She has four sons. . .who play football.