SALINAS, Calif. - "I was starting to fade out a little bit and like blackish, and I was like, oh my God, I just got a concussion right now. And I was like, I'm really dizzy. Then I was like, I'm fine, I'm totally fine," said Student-Athlete, Brittany Tibbs. "
That's how Salinas High's Brittany Tibbs described feeling after hitting her head on an opponent's shoulder during a soccer match.
"I kind of just played it low-key and I went to school the next day and asked my athletic trainer if I could take a concussion test and I took the test and it turned out that I had a concussion," said Tibbs.
Brittany has plenty of company. Concussions have become a big problem in youth and high school sports, with almost four-million reported nationwide in 2012. That's more than double the number from 2002.
"Yeah it used to be in society and even a little bit in the medical field that concussions weren't something that were taken seriously. They were something that was sort of laughed about, but now we realize the tremendous damage it could cause throughout one's lifetime and we take it much more seriously," said Natividad Medical Center's Emergency Department Director, Dr. Christopher Burke.
Natividad Medical Center in Salinas is so concerned about concussions that it launched a program called "Brainsmart."
Concussion numbers are on the rise. Now, between four and five million cases are reported across the country each year. One in 5 high school athletes will be diagnosed with a concussion during their season, and while 33% of concussions occur at practice, another 33% report experiencing 2 or more in the same year.
"The problem is you are at risk if you have another concussion, especially in a similar area to having the second one be much worse with long lasting effects," said Dr. Burke.
That's known as Second Impact Syndrome, which raises the chances of a permanent neurological disability by nearly 40 percent. There are several signs of concussion.
"Dizziness, nausea, difficulty walking, difficulty concentrating, blurred vision, poor performance at your job or school, poor difficulty with concentration," said Dr. Burke.
Dr. Burke urges athletes to take all concussions seriously, and to take as much time as needed to make sure it fully heals.
"If you've had one concussion, chances are you're going to recover and not have any long term effects as long as it's not a really serious concussion," said Dr. Burke.