A study of high school football players who suffered concussions indicates that those who experienced dizziness immediately following the injury had a greater risk for a longer recovery.

Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center said that dizziness following a concussion seems to serve as a “proxy” for other problems that those with a head injury may suffer, including balance problems, spatial orientation and cognition.

The study examined 107 Pennsylvania high school football players who suffered a concussion on the field and were immediately examined by an athletic trainer or team physician. Those who experienced dizziness as a symptom immediately following the injury took an average of three weeks longer to recover.

Head injuries among high school athletes have quadrupled in the past decade, with football players being the most likely to suffer them. Those who return to the field too early and suffer a repeat blow to the head may suffer more serious consequences, including potentially fatal bleeding inside the skull and swelling of the brain.

Symptoms of concussions include headache, dizziness, nausea, fatigue, confusion and ringing in the ears, and can appear hours after the initial injury. Contrary to popular belief, most concussions (90%) do not involve losing consciousness. Approximately 47% of athletes do not report feeling any symptoms after suffering a concussion, which makes this injury all the more dangerous.

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