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What is second impact syndrome?

Second impact syndrome is caused when an athlete returns to play too soon after an initial brain injury. The brain is more susceptible to injury after the initial brain damage. A second hit causes a rapid increase in blood volume in the head due to the brain's inability to self-regulate blood volume following a brain injury. This increase blood flow causes pressure to build in the skull, resulting in brain death within minutes of the second hit.

(This answer provided for NATA by the Washington State University Athletic Training Education Program.)

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.