|A diagram of the forces on the brain in a coup-contrecoup injury (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
Second Impact Syndrome is characterized by an individual receiving an initial mild concussion, then before the brain has ample time to heal, receives another mild concussion. These concussions happening so close to time with one another causes severe brain injury to occur, and in almost every situation results in death. What occurs to cause the death of these individuals is that the brain experiences massive swelling, and the brain stem herniates, resulting in immediate brain death, i.e., death of the individual. An image was shown along with the description of second impact syndrome of an individual who experienced a brain injury similar to compounding concussions. What it showed was quite startling to see. As one can image a normal healthy brain looks somewhat like a combination of spongy layers with space between them, as seen from a cross section. Well this brain that was depicted showed no space, just a solid white mass. This was the severity of swelling due to the compound concussions that were similar in nature to second impact syndrome.
So now one can see why the importance of protocol in the return-to-play is important, because if another concussion is received in the time in takes for the initial concussion to heal, death can occur. Concussions are not the minor incident as they were once thought. They are severe, and must be taken seriously.