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Courtesy Phil Stapleton


When you finish this chapter you should be able to

  • Propose a plan for helping prevent or at least minimize the frequency of injuries to the head.

  • Review the related anatomy of the head.

  • Establish a systematic process for evaluating concussions and mild head injuries.

  • Make an informed decision regarding the sideline and follow-up management of sport-related concussions based on a comprehensive presentation of the available options.

  • Recognize the seriousness of a variety of injuries to the head and be aware of the length of time potentially needed for recovery.

  • Discuss the value of neurocognitive tests in determining the state of recovery following concussion.

  • Be able to correctly identify the various injuries that can occur to the face, eyes, ears, nose, and throat.


Injuries to the region of the head, face, eyes, ears, nose, and throat are common. The severity of injuries to this region can vary from something as benign as a nosebleed to severe concussions of the cortex.


Although injuries to the head and face are more prevalent in collision and contact sports, the potential for head injuries exists in all sports (Table 26–1).33 The use of helmets or other protective headgear and, in some instances, face masks in sports such as football, ice hockey, lacrosse, wrestling, and baseball has dramatically reduced the incidence of injuries to the head, face, eyes, ears, and nose. Some have argued that if the face mask were eliminated in a sport such as football, the number of cervical spine and head injuries would be reduced because the athlete would be less likely to use the head when making contact. It is certain, however, that the incidence of injuries to the face, eyes, ears, and nose would significantly increase. A helmet can do only so much in preventing injury to the brain. Manufacturers of protective headgear for soccer have made unsubstantiated claims about its ability to minimize concussions.13 All football helmets have written warnings that discourage the use of the head as a weapon (see Chapter 7). The athletic trainer should take responsibility for educating coaches, athletes, and parents about the limitations of protective equipment for concussion prevention, and should ensure that everyone reads all warning labels associated with protective equipment.11 SoR:C The athletic trainer has a responsibility to make certain that coaches are teaching and athletes are using correct and safe techniques.11

TABLE 26–1Sports with a High Risk of Head Injury

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