Concussions can occur in gymnastics and gymnasts, parents, and coaches should be aware of the signs and symptoms and what to do if they believe a concussion has occurred.
A concussion is a mild traumatic brain injury from a hit to the head, neck, face, or body with an impulsive force transmitted to the head (1). Signs and symptoms of a concussion include but are not limited to loss of consciousness, disorientation, headache, acting confused, sleep disturbances, headache, blurred vision, personality changes, amnesia, imbalanced, and more (1).
Recently, my team and I created a paper that was published in the journal Brain Injury on gymnastics and concussions (titled: Gymnastics and Concussions: A Retrospective Chart Review) as I wanted to understand more about concussions and the sport of gymnastics. I performed a retrospective chart review (meaning I reviewed over the medical charts for the past 10 years in the database searching for gymnasts who sustained a concussion) and out of the 201 charts that were flagged 62 patients met the criteria for the study. Then with my team and coauthors, we performed statistical tests, and then gathered and summarized the findings. The major findings were:
- Gymnasts get concussions, just like other sports
- 20% of these concussions had a loss of consciousness
- The most common event a concussion occurred on was floor exercise
The most common event a concussion occurs on is the floor.
If you suspect a concussion you should stop practice/competition and seek medical advice. It is important for gymnasts, parents, and coaches to identify concussions early and see a medical provider for evaluation and treatment.
- Elspeth Hart, David R. Howell, Anna Brilliant, Michael O’Brien & William P. Meehan (2023) Gymnastics and concussions: A retrospective chart review, Brain Injury, 37:8, 675-679, DOI: 10.1080/02699052.2023.2213480
Dr. Elly Hart, DScPAS, PA-C, MPAS, ATC, LAT is a Physician Assistant at Boston Children’s Hospital and founder of Gymnastics Medicine: Education and Research.