There is no treatment for CTE. But CTE may be prevented because it is associated with recurrent concussions. Individuals who have had one concussion are more likely to have another head injury. The current recommendation to prevent CTE is to reduce mild traumatic brain injuries and prevent additional injury after a concussion.

The following equipment can help reduce head injury:

  • Sports-specific helmets. Helmets have reduced injury for baseball, ice hockey, rugby, alpine skiing and snowboarding. It's possible that people choosing to wear a helmet also take fewer risks. Helmets have not reduced injury for soccer players. Helmets also cannot eliminate the occurrence of concussions.
  • Bicycle and motorcycle helmets. These reduce head injury in case of accident.

Coaches and players need to understand current guidelines for sports-related injuries. It's difficult to evaluate concussion during play, and coaches and players should be cautious and keep injured athletes out of the game.

The following signs and symptoms of concussion may be visible to coaches or to the athlete.

Danger signals:

  • Loss of consciousness, even briefly
  • One pupil larger than the other
  • Drowsy or cannot be awakened
  • A headache that gets worse
  • Weakness, numbness or decreased coordination
  • Repeated vomiting or nausea
  • Slurred speech
  • Convulsions or seizures
  • Unable to recognize people or places
  • Increasingly confused, restless or agitated or has other unusual behavior

Signs of concussion someone might observe in another person:

  • Appears dazed or stunned
  • Is confused about assignment or position
  • Forgets an instruction
  • Is unsure of game, score or opponent
  • Moves clumsily
  • Answers questions slowly
  • Loses consciousness, even briefly
  • Shows mood, behavior or personality changes
  • Can't recall events prior to or after hit or fall

Symptoms of concussion someone might notice themselves:

  • Headache or pressure in head
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Balance problems or dizziness
  • Double or blurry vision
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Sensitivity to noise
  • Feeling sluggish, hazy, foggy or groggy
  • Concentration or memory problems
  • Confusion

If you suspect a concussion in yourself or someone else, follow the four-step action plan:

  • Remove the athlete from play for the day.
  • Have a health care professional evaluate the athlete.
  • Inform the athlete's parent, guardian or significant other.
  • Keep the athlete out of play until health care professional OKs a return.

Follow the gradual five-step plan to return to play:

  1. Light aerobic exercise, no weightlifting
  2. Moderate exercise, weightlifting OK
  3. Heavy, noncontact exercise
  4. Practice and controlled full contact
  5. Competition
April 20, 2016