Concussions and Memory/Amnesia

Today in the Athletic community and sports medicine the major topic of discussion revolves around concussions. The Mayo Clinic describes a concussion as a traumatic brain injury that is caused by a hard blow or jolt to your head, neck, or upper body causing your brain to forcefully slide back and forth against the inner walls of your skull. According to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, the brain is cushioned by cerebrospinal fluid within our skulls, however when the brain comes in contact with the inner side of the skull potential for tearing of blood vessels, pulling of nerve fibers and bruising of the brain substance arises.


In an interview with Neuropsychologist Christian Ambler, he mentions how research done in the United States reviled the number of annual incidence of sport related concussions is estimated to be around 300,000. Concussion awareness has become more prominent in the recent years as more research and development has been performed. Due to this athletes are now required to take an ImPACT test before they are able to participate in sports. The safety of athletes has also rose dramatically in the last few years. The American Association of Neurological Surgeons released a list of twenty sports and recreational activities that resulted in the highest estimated number of head injuries in US hospitals during 2009.


Cycling: 85,389

Football: 46,948

Baseball and Softball: 38,394

Basketball: 34,692

Water Sports (Diving, Scuba Diving, Surfing, Swimming, Water Polo, Water Skiing, Water Tubing): 28,716

Powered Recreational Vehicles (ATVs, Dune Buggies, Go-Carts, Mini bikes, Off-road): 26,606

Soccer: 24,184

Skateboards/Scooters: 23,114

Fitness/Exercise/Health Club: 18,012

Winter Sports (Skiing, Sledding, Snowboarding, Snowmobiling): 16,948

Horseback Riding: 14,466

Gymnastics/Dance/Cheerleading: 10,223

Golf: 10,035

Hockey: 8,145

Other Ball Sports and Balls, Unspecified: 6,883

Trampolines: 5,919

Rugby/Lacrosse: 5,794

Roller and Inline Skating: 3,320

Ice Skating: 4,608


Concussions are known for tampering with memory. Memory problems usually occur when the injury is to the temporal lope of the brain. While reading an article on, I found that the temporal lobe is the section of the brain that is most likely to become bruised resulting from a head injury. Showing why problems with memory occur as the result of a concussion. They compared this bruising to a physical bruise by saying “like a black and blue mark on your arm or leg, these bruises will recover with time.”


People who have been diagnosed with a concussion experience amnesia, although at different levels of severity. As we learned in class, amnesia can be defined as the distinction between explicit and implicit memory. There are three types of amnesia, first is post traumatic amnesia which means there is a space from when the initial injury occurred to the time the person is able to make continuous memories where the person is unable to recall what happened. This can last from several minutes to days. The next type is retrograde amnesia where the person is unable to remember events before the injury. The last type is called anterograde amnesia where the person is unable to remember new information. This form of amnesia seems to be limited to explicit memory while leaving implicit memory unaffected. If a patient suffers from retrograde amnesia after a concussion they are unable to access old long-term memories and if they suffer from anterograde amnesia they are unable to remember experiences after the injury.


As an athlete, I grew up playing softball until the last couple months when I started to play rugby. I never believed that concussions were that serious rather I thought they were just like any other bump or soreness I was feeling. I am glad that with time more research is being done to improve the safety of athletes and their brains on the field.



The following links are where I gathered my information.

3 thoughts on “Concussions and Memory/Amnesia

  1. amichaud

    I found this article to be extremely informational considering that so much of the student body at UMW is involved in athletics. Luckily our campus makes athletes take concussion tests before playing any sport so that they have information to base head trauma off of. Based on recent media coverage I would have figured that the number one concussion related sport would have been football but was surprised to find that it was actually cycling.
    Being an athlete who has been concussed several times I can relate to this article and the many problems that arise from having a concussion. It seems that people are not fully informed on what a concussion is and how to go about treating it. Hopefully with more informational articles like this more and more people will get help rather than ignoring the symptoms. Very interesting read!

  2. mluning

    I really liked this post, who would have thought that cycling is the sport most likely to give you a concussion? As the comment above says, I definitely would have guessed that football would be number one. I’ve been riding horses since I was a child and participated in gymnastics and field hockey for large portions of my life also and , although I know a lot of people that have, I am lucky that I have never had a concussion.
    It’s information like this that can lead people in the right direction of manufacturing things like safety equipment. From the looks of it, cyclists need better head gear. I think that today’s society in general sees a concussion and thinks, this is bad for the team, instead of, this needs to be taken care of properly before the individual returns to the team. It can’t be denied that our brains are what make us ourselves, so I hope that this information goes into making people more conscious about concussion safety.

  3. kharner

    This post really interests me because I have had a mild concussion, and for the longest time i didn’t even acknowledge that it had happened. it was from goofing around with my friend and not an actual sport (although i got a second one skiing) , so I didn’t really tell anyone because I didn’t think it was a big deal. I started getting migraines the day after it happened and it took me an absurd amount of time to connect the dots between my head injury and the onset of migraine disorder.

    Second, my high school started doing mandatory concussion training for all athletes, and began taking head injuries extremely seriously. I’ve usually been one “suck it up” or keep pushing even if I’m injured, but with new knowledge about the damage concussions can do, I am glad to see them taken more seriously by the athletic community and the “suck it up” attitude is actively being challenged and replaced by caution.

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