Football season is in full swing, and this brings up the conversation of concussions, but football is not the only sport that suffers from concussions. Soccer is another leader in concussion statistics, along with all other sports and job sites. Any person can suffer a concussion from any type of blow to the head. A concussion is a traumatic brain injury that affects the brain function. An example is shaking an egg; the yolk bounces around inside the shell. During a concussion, the brain is shaken, causing loss of function. There is no magic number of days for healing. Each concussion is different with a variety of symptoms and how long the symptoms last. Here are a few of the symptoms to look for:
- feeling “foggy”
- blurry vision
- loss of balance
- sleeping more than usual
- sleeping less than usual
- ringing in the ears
- sensitivity to light or sound
- loss of memory
A common myth is that in order for a person to have a concussion, they have to lose consciousness; this however, is not true. A person can have a concussion and have no memory loss. Concussions also do not show up on imaging done by physicians. Imagining is done in order to detect brain damage such as bleeding or bruising.
Rest is first step in recovering from a concussion. Healing times vary depending on the individual. Some may take 7 days while others may take more than 7 days. Returning to activity can worsen symptoms and may also cause Second Impact Syndrome (SIS) if another blow to the head occurs. SIS occurs when the brain swells rapidly, after a person suffers a second concussion before symptoms from an earlier one has subsided. This syndrome can be fatal if a second blow occurs before the initial concussion heals.
Concussions cannot be prevented, just as breaking a bone cannot be prevented. However, measures can be taken to be aware of what happens. Education about recognizing symptoms and reporting a concussion are two of the biggest factors in concussion management. Especially with the adolescent brain, reporting a hit to the head to a school athletic trainer, parents, coaches, or family doctor is the most important step in concussion management. For adults on the jobsite or at home, recognizing the symptoms and taking the appropriate measures to get medical attention can help to diagnose a concussion. If you are concerned that your son/daughter, family member, spouse, friend, or yourself has a concussion, call your family physician or local athletic trainer for more information about concussion management.