Odds are that you, or someone you know, has suffered from a concussion (or multiple). But did you know that concussions are actually considered mild forms of traumatic brain injury? Concussions are serious…and therefore should be taken seriously.
The CDC estimates that nearly 3 million incidences of sports-related concussions occur every year, and this doesn’t even include all the other causes of concussion! Even more concerning is that half of concussions go unreported or undetected. Football accounts for more than half of all concussions. Girls soccer comes in second, and girls have roughly twice the concussion risk of boys within the same sport.
But, team sports aren’t the only place to look for these. Concussions are common in snow sports, accounting for 20% of injuries in skiing and snowboarding. Unfortunately for shredders, snowboarders have 50% higher rate of head and neck injury compared to skiers.
Signs and Symptoms of a Serious Concussion
- Dazed, stunned, or confused
- Disoriented to time, place, events, or unable to recall events
- Answers questions slowly, forgets instructions
- Loss of consciousness (not always!)
- Mood or behavior changes
- Headache, nausea, vomiting
- Imbalance, dizziness, blurred vision
- Sensitivity to light or noise
- Difficulty concentrating or feeling sluggish, hazy, or groggy
Most concussions should resolve within 7-10 days, but if symptoms persists, you may need to talk to your doctor, or see a PT/OT to get a screen.
Concussions are Serious! BEWARE: Second Impact Syndrome
Research suggests that a person who suffers a second concussion before the initial concussion has healed, has a 100% chance of permanent brain damage and a 50% chance of dying.
An example of this happening may be a football player who sustains a concussion and continues to play then receives another blow to the head. This leads to rapid and profound brain swelling, and possible complications of Second Impact Syndrome include:
- Learning disabilities
- Personality changes
- Walking disability
- Other brain or nerve disorder
- Permanent brain damage or death
When to go to the Emergency Room (in the first 48 hours)
- Loss of consciousness or seizures
- Increased headaches
- Slurred speech
- Repeated vomiting
- Abnormal confusion or unusual behavior
- Limb weakness
What to do if you or your child sustains a Serious concussion
Rest, rest, and more rest…but seriously, physical AND mental rest for the first 48 hours (no school). Then, slowly and gradually return to work/school. Once your child is able to do one hour of homework at home for 1-2 days, they may try to return to a modified school schedule. No return to sport/activity until able to return to school successfully
Diet: reduce inflammatory foods, such as processed foods with saturated fat and refined sugar, processed meats, fried foods, etc., and eat enough to fuel the brain.
Lastly, consider scheduling an appointment with a PT, OT, or speech therapist, as we are trained in concussion screening, vestibular management, return to sport, and return to learn.