Most people know to look for the common signs and symptoms of concussions, like headaches, dizziness, and nausea. We need to become more vigilant watching for personality changes and emotional effects of concussions in sports.

Recent research into athletes with sport-related concussions suggests that mental health concerns often plague young athletes. Compared to athletes who have not suffered traumatic brain injuries in sports, athletes who have suffered these injuries have increased risks for the following issues:

• Psychological distress
• Anxiety or depression requiring medications
• Bullying or cyber-bullying at school (either as the victim or the bully)
• Contemplating suicide
• Attempting suicide

Look for emotional effects of concussions

Unfortunately, personality changes after concussions can be difficult to recognize. The people who know the athletes the best – parents and friends – should be especially vigilant to look for any changes in the injured athletes in the weeks after the injury occurs.

Often the young athlete will become more emotionally labile. Parents might remark that their son or daughter seems to have a “short fuse” more than before the injury. On the other hand, the athlete might be noted to have a more flat affect than before. Often parents and coaches don’t look for these changes.

Also read:
Don’t allow players to return to the game after any concussion
Undergo baseline concussion testing before the season

Likewise, team physicians, athletic trainers, and coaches should also ask players and their families if their personalities are normal or have returned to normal. Often unless we ask about these changes in personality, no one would never ever recognize the problem.

Just as the physical symptoms of a concussion should indicate that parents seek medical attention for their son or daughter, personality and emotional changes should as well. Consider taking the young athlete to a counselor or even a psychiatrist. If you have access to a neurologist familiar with concussions in sports, take your child for an exam. Or at the very least, take your child to his regular pediatrician or family doctor.