Mild head injury (MHI) represents one of the most challenging neurological pathologies occurring during athletic participation. Athletic trainers and sports medicine personnel are often faced with decisions about the severity of head injury and the timing of an athlete's return to play following MHI. Returning an athlete to competition following MHI too early can be a catastrophic mistake. This case study involves a 20-year-old collegiate football player who sustained three mild head injuries during one season. The case study demonstrates how objective measures of balance and cognition can be used when making decisions about returning an athlete to play following MHI. These measures can be used to supplement the subjective guidelines proposed by many physicians.
Bryan L. Riemann is a graduate student in Sports Medicine, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC. Kevin M. Guskiewicz is with the Department of Physical Education, Exercise and Sport Science, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-8700.