Spring is here and along with that so are contact sports: track, soccer, baseball, school playgrounds, etc. It is also a time when we need to think about concussions and the importance of recognizing them and getting proper treatment.
A concussion is a brain injury caused by blunt head trauma. In the U.S. concussions affect more than 1 million individuals each year. Motor vehicle accidents are the most common cause of concussion, but it may result from active contact sports such as boxing, football, skiing, horseback riding, biking or just by a fall.
The symptoms are many: headache, confusion, lack of memory, altered level of consciousness, sleepy, unconscious, nausea and vomiting, ringing in the ears, difficulty with speech, balance, judgment, concentration, learning, sleeping, and blurred vision.
Symptoms of concussion develop immediately after the injury and should be assessed as quickly as possible. Alertness, memory and neurological status are evaluated first. In some cases this may be followed by a CT or MRI to exclude rare but dangerous complications such as skull fractures, brain swelling or bleeding.
Rest with gradual return to normal physical activity is important for full recovery. Prevention of a second injury during recovery is important because having a concussion increases the risk of a second concussion by 5 times.
“Few things in the world are more powerful than a positive push. A smile. A word of optimism and hope. A ‘you can do it’ when things are tough.” –Richard M. Devos