HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - There are millions of diagnosed concussions and many times more that aren't correctly detected and treated.
Sports Physician Dr. Nathan Darby said, "It's more of a constellation of symptoms than a physical injury. If you do an MRI scan or a CT scan you cannot see a physical injury in the brain itself."
Darby is one of several Doctors at Hattiesburg Clinic who works with local high schools, to educate coaches and athletes on the signs and symptoms they need to watch out for.
"We cover a little over 20 high schools for our sports medicine program here at Hattiesburg Clinic and I would say, during football season we see on average 2 to 3 on a busy week and then some weeks we won't have any if we are lucky," said Darby.
It's not just football players being treated. Darby said it is also common in cheerleaders and soccer players.
"You have to be aware that there is a broad range of what a concussion can look like, know what to look for and be aggressive about following up with the player if you are suspicious of a concussion," said Darby.
There are a number of different symptoms, and in some cases they may not be easily detected for hours or days after the injury.
Darby said, "Anything from a simple headache to dizziness, confusion, or nausea. Or it can be more physical type symptoms where they have problems with their balance. It can make you feel like you are in a fog, like you are slowing down, trouble concentrating on school work. We have had players tell us that when they try to text on their phone they couldn't hit the right keys, it gave them a headache."
Any small change in physical or mental behavior should not be ignored.
"Many times at a practice there is not a trainer or one of our physicians, it is just the coaches and they need to know what to look for. They also need to know that the player has to stay out and be evaluated by our medical team."
While most concussions heal within a few weeks, an athlete who returns before a full recovery risks re-injuring the brain, which can have catastrophic consequences.