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Scott pediatrician: take concussions seriously

Concussion symptoms include seizures, repeated vomiting, severe or progressively worsening headache, unsteady gait, slurred speech, weakness or numbness in the extremities, and unusual behavior. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Jonathon Fowler)

Concussion symptoms include seizures, repeated vomiting, severe or progressively worsening headache, unsteady gait, slurred speech, weakness or numbness in the extremities, and unusual behavior. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Jonathon Fowler)

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. -- Concussions can happen in an instant.

As more is learned about concussions and their effects, it is important to learn how to recognize symptoms and respond correctly.

But what exactly is a concussion?

"Simply stated, a concussion can be seen as a hit to the head, face or neck that causes changes in our brain," said Maj Guy Venuti, 375th Medical Operations Squadron pediatrician.

According to MomsTeam, concussion statistics for high school sports has doubled in the last decade.

"Concussions represent an estimated 8 to 9 percent of all high school athletic injuries," said Venuti.

If an athlete gets hit in the head, face or neck, while playing a sport, and feels dazed or has visual problems afterwards, he or she might have experienced a minor concussion.

Venuti said education is very important to reducing the damage a concussion can cause.

"We continue to learn and educate," he said. "We watch for the warning signs of more serious injury; things like seizures immediately after a concussion, repeated vomiting, severe or progressively worsening headache, unsteady gait, slurred speech, weakness or numbness in the extremities, or unusual behavior."

The pediatrician said it's critical to have cell phone access at the field so that someone can quickly access help, if needed.

"Any player or person who has concussion symptoms should be treated and immediately evaluated," he said. "Every head injury is treated as a potential neck injury and we immobilize the cervical spine as quickly as possible."

It can be scary facing difficult decisions that may put people at risk, but a well thought out emergency plan could be the difference between life and death.

"We hold our coaches and trainers accountable," said Venuti. "We expect to be involved in every "return to play" decision."

Any head or neck injury should be treated seriously and carefully.

"We don't blow off head trauma--we give it as much respect as it deserves," said Venuti.