Concussions: Nothing to Take Lightly!

There are 4-5 million concussions reported every year and there has been a lot of press about concussions especially for football, boxing and martial arts. Unfortunately, there are many more concussions that go unreported for sports like soccer, gymnastics, skateboarding and baseball.

What is a concussion? It is a type of traumatic brain injury that is caused by a bump, blow or jolt to the head that can change the way your brain normally functions.

Signs and symptoms of a concussion include:
1. Physical—Includes headache, nausea and vomiting, balance issues, dizziness, visual problems, fatigue, sensitivity to light or noise, numbness or tingling and being dazed or stunned.
2. Cognitive– Mentally foggy, feeling slowed down, difficulty concentrating, recent memory deficit, confused about an event, answering questions slowly, repeating questions.
3. Emotional– Irritability, sadness, being more emotional, nervousness.
4. Sleep– Drowsiness, sleeping less or more than usual, trouble falling asleep.

Treatment usually involves the following:
1. Stop activity–If engaged in a sport, you must remain out of the game until cleared by a physician.
2. Seek medical treatment with the first signs or symptoms of a concussion.
3. Monitoring—Depending on severity, you may need to be hospitalized for observation. If less severe, 24 hour monitoring may be done at home. A responsible person needs to awaken the individual with a concussion every couple hours to assess for possible worsening of symptoms.
4. Rest—You must avoid physical exertion until you have no symptoms. Your mind also needs rest. You need to have no or limited thinking activities or concentration type activities like video games, TV, schoolwork, reading, texting or using the computer.
5. Shortened school or work day—You need to take frequent breaks. Children need less homework.
6. Pain relievers—Tylenol is best. You should avoid Ibuprofen and aspirin as these could cause bleeding.
7. Gradual increase in activities–As symptoms decrease, you can increase physical non-contact activity and thinking activities.
8. No return to contact activities until cleared.

Ways to prevent concussions:
1. Seat belts—Everyone should always wear a seatbelt to reduce the risk of a concussion if involved in an accident.
2. Helmets—If there is a helmet made for your activity, buy and wear it.
3. Home safety—Be sure you have adequate lighting, clean up spills, use salt on ice or snow, block stairs with young children and older adults and cover window wells.
4. Exercise– improves leg muscle strength & balance.
5. Education on when to seek medical treatment. This includes parents, coaches and teachers. A baseline assessment may be done for athletes prior to participation in sports for comparison purposes.

References:
Impacttest.com
Mayoclinic.org

This post is intended to provide you with information to better understand your overall health. Always consult with a qualified physician for diagnosis.

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