Concussions are a large part of discussions about the health of professional athletes these days but are an injury that can happen to anyone – in sport and in everyday life. Doctors and scientists are still working hard to research how these brain injuries work. Understanding the basics of these injuries is important to staying safe and protecting yourself.
What are Concussions?
A concussion is a common type of mild traumatic brain injury, resulting from impacts involving the head. The skull contains fluids that help to cushion the brain from sudden movements or impacts. However, these fluids sometimes can’t absorb the entire impact, and the brain can be damaged as it hits the inside of the skull.
Any kind of sudden force or impact can cause a concussion, including blows to the head or other impacts that result in violent head movements. Someone can get a concussion just as easily from a tackle in sports as they can from the sudden stop of a car accident. A single big impact isn’t always necessary to get a concussion either – the cumulative effect of multiple small impacts can cause harm, too.
Signs and Symptoms
Concussions can vary quite a bit between each individual injury, so the symptoms of each injury are just as unique. Early signs of a concussion can include any of these neurological symptoms to any degree of severity, occurring rapidly after an impact:
- Nausea (and/or vomiting)
- Visual symptoms (double or blurred vision, seeing lights)
- Lack of coordination or difficulty balancing
- Difficulty remembering the events resulting in the injury (post-traumatic amnesia)
- Confusion and/or disorientation
- Difficulty focusing
- Slowed or slurred speech
Some concussions involve a brief loss of consciousness or convulsions as a result of the concussion impact. These symptoms should be taken very seriously and should be assessed by medical professionals immediately in order to determine if the injury is a concussion or something more serious.
What to Do
If a concussion is suspected, the first concern is limiting the risk of further injury. Additional impacts to an already injured brain can come with very serious consequences, like permanent damage or even death.
Following up a concussion injury with your doctor is recommended. General Practitioners are excellent tools to help gauge the severity of the injury and guide recovery, while also providing access other medical specialists.
There is no guaranteed recovery time for a concussion, and there is not even a distinct link between the severity of a concussion and the duration of recovery. Part of a healthy recovery includes gradually reintroducing activities like school, work, and even sports.
While concussions in everyday life are usually unavoidable, there are ways that we can reduce the risk of concussions in sports. Helmets or mouthguards are useful in reducing the risk of injury but are far from complete protection. An important part of avoiding concussions is playing safe. Using proper technique and playing smart to avoid risky situations can put your body in a better position to avoid being hurt. Focusing on playing smart with good form will keep you safer from injury than any protective gear.
The more we learn about concussions, the more we realize that these are significant injuries that we need to work hard to avoid as much as possible. Your brain is a very important part of your body, and you don’t want to be anything less than careful with it.
“Consensus statement on concussion in sport – British Journal of Sports ….” 26 Apr. 2017, http://bjsm.bmj.com/content/bjsports/early/2017/04/26/bjsports-2017-097699.full.pdf. Accessed 3 May. 2018.