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What Is Second Impact Syndrome?

Second impact syndrome (SIS) is a somewhat rare brain injury that is most often found in young athletes. Although there have only been 21 cases reported in the last three decades, many health professionals believe that it is a serious issue that often isn’t even diagnosed. In fact, many believe that there are a half-dozen cases each year that are never correctly classified as SIS.

Second impact syndrome occurs when a person receives a second concussion days or weeks after suffering from an initial concussion. Even if both concussions are mild, the second concussion can have devastating effects and often leads to serious brain injury and even death. During second impact syndrome, the brain can quickly begin to bleed and the head injury victim could suffer a cerebral edema. With in moments of the secondary impact, brain injury victims can lose eye movement, become unconscious, and suffer respiratory failure.

Secondary Impact Syndrome often takes place in young athletes, especially in sports like boxing, football, basketball, hockey, soccer, cycling, and skiing. Doctors are unsure of why young people are more likely to suffer from this condition.

Because of recent deaths, especially in high school football, many schools are instating policies about student athletes that suffer from concussion and educating parents, coaches, and staff about Secondary Impact Syndrome. Many hope that making sure that students stay off of the field for a month after a concussion with ensure that fewer children suffer this serious brain injury.