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Red Sox Injury Insider

Concussions Aren’t Always What They Seem

PedroiaWrist61517On Friday, June 23, Josh Rutledge was placed on the Red Sox seven-day concussion disabled list. Reports say the utility infielder first experienced symptoms on May 29 in Chicago after making a diving play in center field. Initially, Rutledge played despite having symptoms, but they persisted. It became something he could no longer ignore.

“This behavior is common. Diagnosing a concussion can be difficult, so understanding whether or not you have a concussion isn’t always straightforward,” says Joseph DeAngelis, MD, an orthopaedic surgeon in the Division of Sports Medicine and Shoulder Surgery at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

“After an accident, headaches and a sense of discomfort are common,” says DeAngelis. “These subtle changes are not always obvious. They can linger and get worse over time.”

Although concussion symptoms usually appear immediately after a head injury, some symptoms may take hours or longer to appear. Symptoms can also change over time, starting off subtly and becoming more noticeable when your brain is stressed or stimulated.

DeAngelis adds that, “Visual stimuli can be particularly problematic, so it’s important to limit your exposure to bright lights, including video games and other screen time.”

Concussions are graded as mild (grade 1), moderate (grade 2) or severe (grade 3), depending on factors such as loss of consciousness, amnesia and the duration of symptoms. No matter what the grade, it’s important that all athletes — both professional or just-for-fun — take time to fully heal before returning to the field.

“After a concussion, you’ll have the best outcome if you can make a full and complete recovery before returning to sports,” says DeAngelis. “It takes time, but the consequences of having another head injury before you’re better can be catastrophic.”

That’s another reason proper diagnosis is so important — because having one concussion can increase the risk of a second concussion. It’s best to talk with your doctor right away rather than trying to manage symptoms on your own.

“Concussions can happen at any time. Knowing the signs and symptoms can raise awareness and help everybody make safe choices on and off the field,” says DeAngelis. “The best treatment for concussion is to prevent them from happening in the first place.”

Head injuries are serious and need to be treated properly on a case-by-case basis. Josh Rutledge will get plenty of support as he battles back from his concussion. That sets the right example. Because the better you understand the symptoms of your concussion and take time to heal, the better your chances for a speedy, healthy recovery.

View more 2017 Injury Insider articles