We have all heard the word “Concussion”, but do we really know why it happens, what the symptoms are, and how to recover from one? It is very crucial to understand what a concussion really means because they occur all around us… every single day. In 2009 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated that at least 2.4 million emergency department visits, hospitalizations or deaths were related to a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). By the end of this article, it is our goal to make sure you know the basics of a concussion.
According to the First International Conference on Concussion in Sport and Second Conference, a concussion is a complex pathophysiological process affecting the brain which is induced by biomechanical forces. A concussion can result from a direct blow to the head, face, neck, or elsewhere on the body with an “impulsive” force transmitted to the head. (Vienna 2009, Prague 2004) Motor vehicles and falls account for 70% of concussions while the remaining 30% derive from assaults and sports & recreation. (CDC 2006)
In order to identify a concussion here are some symptoms to look out for after someone has sustained head injury:
- Severe or increased headaches.
- Double vision
- Unequal pupils
- Unusual/increased drowsiness
- Bleeding/clear fluid from the ear/nose
- Projectile or repeated vomiting
- Unusual stiffness in the neck area
- Personality changes
- Weakness in either arm(s) or leg(s)
- Numbness in face/extremities
Be sure to monitor these symptoms especially if they are worsening within the first 24-48hours.
I know you might be wondering how long these symptoms will actually last. Our bodies are made to restore and recover. Most athletes recover within days to weeks, 98% by one month. It takes a little bit longer for younger athletes and females (in comparison to males). Keep in mind that abnormalities in metabolic balance, oxygen consumption, and electrical responses persist for several months.
In order to increase the chances of recovery and prevent further damage here are a couple of tips to keep in mind. The first thing that must be done in addition to recognizing the symptoms is to stop all strenuous activity. Be sure to consult with your physician for further examination. While you are waiting on your doctor’s appointment, be sure to: stay away from aspirin or ibuprofen, get lots of rest and sleep, eat a light diet, keep noise levels and lights to a minimum, and use ice packs when necessary. As you advance your activities, if the symptoms tend to recur, you may need to advance at a slower pace to allow your brain the additional time it needs to heal.
Be sure your physician or medical examiner is well versed with concussions, there are a lot of outdated techniques that can hinder the healing process. Don’t be afraid to ask your healthcare provider if he/she is aware of up-to-date concussion protocols. Remember the brain is such a crucial and complex organ in the body, so don’t take it lightly. Concussions are common but are treatable if the correct protocol has taken place and in most cases, you can achieve a complete recovery.