Second-impact syndrome (SIS) is rare but can be fatal. The condition can result after a second concussion occurs during the period when the brain is still healing from a previous concussion.
SIS results in dangerous brain swelling and bleeding that can cause death or permanent brain damage. It can even occur weeks after a concussion diagnosis, according to an article by the University of Washington Medicine.
Symptoms of second impact syndrome are similar to concussion symptoms, but may also include:
Failure of the lungs to contract and breath normally
Unequal size of the eye’s pupils
In terms of concussions in sports, SIS is preventable by removing concussed players from all practice and play until concussion symptoms are gone and the individual is checked by a physician. The dangers of football concussions, particularly high school concussions, have been specifically highlighted in the media recently because of the increased danger of SIS and permanent brain damage in adolescent athletes. A 2013 survey found that nearly all high school football players know the risks of returning to play with concussion symptoms, but more than half said they would “always or sometimes continue to play with a headache sustained from an injury.”
About than 26 percent of former National Football League (NFL) players had suffered three or more concussions during their careers, according to a 2000 survey. It is unknown just how many of the injured players involved in the NFL concussion lawsuits were put at risk by continuing to play with symptoms of a concussion, but the NFL litigation will further highlight the necessity of protecting players from the dangers of concussions and SIS.
If you or someone in your care has suffered from second impact syndrome due to the failure of others to follow proper guidelines for concussions, it’s important to act. Athletes of all ages are suffering potentially lifelong impairment from SIS, and it’s completely avoidable.
Send a message to those in charge that the health and well being of athletes is their most important obligation of all.