Pierre Durand, Jr, MD, and Gregory J. Adamson, MD
Head injuries are prevalent in collision sports. Concussions represent the relatively benign end of the spectrum of injuries. Severe closed head injuries include epidural hematomas, acute subdural hematomas, intracerebral hematomas, intraventricular hematomas, subarachnoid hemorrhages, and diffuse axonal injuries. Second impact syndrome represents a severe cerebral autoregulatory dysfunction that can lead to death in an athlete who sustains a second (often minor) closed head trauma while still symptomatic from a previous head injury. Generally, athletes who have suffered a severe closed head injury should not return to play. Exceptions include athletes asymptomatic for 1 year who return to a noncontact sport and those who recover completely from an epidural hematoma without underlying brain injury. Several guidelines for returning athletes to play have been proposed and are commonly used. The team physician has the responsibility of on-the-field evaluation and management of athletes with head injuries, as well as of advising them when it is safe to return to play.
Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.May/June 2004. Vol.12, No.3