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“Typically, it involves an athlete suffering post-concussive symptoms following a head injury.2 If, within several weeks, the athlete returns to play and sustains a second head injury, diffuse cerebral swelling, brain herniation, and death can occur. SIS can occur with any two events involving head trauma. While rare, it is devastating in that young, healthy patients may die within a few minutes.”

Second Impact Syndrome: A Rare But Usually Fatal Condition

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“Usually within seconds to minutes of the second impact, the athlete – conscious but stunned – suddenly collapses to the ground, semi-conscious with rapidly dilating (widening) pupils and loss of eye movement, and stops breathing.”

Second Impact Syndrome

Second impact syndrome is a very rare condition in which a second concussion occurs before a first concussion has properly healed, causing rapid and severe brain swelling and often catastrophic results. Second impact syndrome can result from even a very mild concussion that occurs days or weeks after the initial concussion.

“Because SIS has a higher mortality rate in young athletes, the focus needs to be on the prevention of SIS. The key to preventing SIS is to ensure that athletes do not return to sport with any post-concussion symptoms. ”

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Potential complications of concussion include:

  • Epilepsy. People who have had a concussion double their risk of developing epilepsy within the first five years after the injury.
  • Cumulative effects of multiple brain injuries. Evidence exists indicating that people who have had multiple concussive brain injuries over the course of their lives may acquire lasting, and even progressive, impairment that limits their ability to function.
  • Postconcussion syndrome. Some people begin having postconcussion symptoms — such as headaches, dizziness and thinking difficulties — a few days after a concussion. Symptoms may continue for weeks to a few months after a concussion.
  • Post-traumatic headaches. Some people experience headaches within a week to a few months after a brain injury.
  • Post-traumatic vertigo. Some people experience a sense of spinning or dizziness for days, week or months after a brain injury.
  • Second impact syndrome. Experiencing a second concussion before signs and symptoms of a first concussion have resolved may result in rapid and usually fatal brain swelling.
    • After a concussion, the levels of brain chemicals are altered. It usually takes about a week for these levels to stabilize again. However, recovery time is variable, and it’s important for athletes never to return to sports while they’re still experiencing signs and symptoms of concussion.

High School Football Player Victim of ‘Second Impact Syndrome
“After taking a shoulder hit during practice, Cody, now 23, became a victim of what doctors call Second Impact Syndrome. His teammates thought he was having a seizure, but he was actually falling into a coma, with massive brain swelling and an irregular heartbeat. It’s been six years since that day, and Cody lives with his parents outside Lafayette, Ind., where he struggles to recall things that happened hours earlier and can no longer walk on his own. “

Former football player’s concussion has altered his life
A 19 year old college athlete, had been diagnosed with a concussion at a local hospital, helmet-to-helmet hit at practice, according to his parents.

He was cleared by a campus medical personnel and allowed to return to play despite throbbing headaches that he did not disclose.

Then came the collision that changed his brain, his life, his family, perhaps even college football forever. The University reached a $7.5 million settlement with the family.

Learn why Second Impact Syndrome Can be More Dangerous Than a Concussion
A few weeks after an initial concussion, a 16 year old player was back on the field. In his first game back, he fell backward, began writhing in pain and grabbing his head. Soon after, he collapsed into a coma and died two days later.