Concussion: Your brain is your most important asset – so protect it!

We’ve all seen our favorite professional athlete sidelined with a concussion, but they’re actually even more common than you’d think at any age. The CDC reports that one in five high school athletes will experience a sports-related concussion during their sports season.

The number of reported sports-related concussions has also doubled in the past 10 years. Major League Baseball and the National Football League have concussion protocols before allowing a player to return after a head in injury.

Understanding how to prevent concussions, as well as knowing the symptoms, is vital for the safety of all athletes.

Concussion Symptoms

A concussion is a mild traumatic brain injury that occurs due a sudden force to the head, which causes the brain to move rapidly within the skull. Concussions temporarily cause problems in the way the brain functions. There are many concussion signs and symptoms that are important to be aware of, and they can vary greatly.

  • Headache (most common)
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Forgetfulness
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Double or blurry vision
  • Sensitivity to light or noise
  • Feeling “foggy”
  • Behavior or personality changes
  • Moves clumsily
  • Answering questions slowly
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Neck pain

For a more severe concussion, signs can include vomiting, a change in pupil size, blood/fluid coming from the ears or nose, seizures, or obvious physical or mental difficulties. These injuries require immediate medical attention.

Symptoms usually occur immediately after the injury, but sometimes can take hours or days to appear. Symptoms typically subside within 7-to-10 days and should be resolved for at least 24 hours before considering a return to activity.

Concussion Treatment

Concussion treatment involves resting from mental and physical activity until signs and symptoms resolve. Ideally, neurocognitive testing will have been done prior to your sports season to provide a baseline for brain function. The test is re-administered after recovery to determine how close the brain is to functioning at its normal level. A slow progression to reintegrate aerobic activity with non-contact activities should be followed before returning to contact sports. Through each phase of reintegrating activity, symptoms should be monitored by a medical professional and progression should be conservative.

Concussion Prevention

Once a person sustains a concussion, they are at greater risk for future concussions. That is why prevention (helmets, mouth guards, safe sports practices, etc.) and timely medical attention are so important. When multiple concussions occur in a short amount of time before the brain has been able to heal, this can lead to permanent neurologic disability, and in rare cases can be life threatening.

Your brain is the control center for the whole body, so protect it! Your doctor and your local physical therapist make a great team to aid in creating and monitoring a treatment plan to help with the transition for returning to activity. If you’d like more information on concussions, please visit our web site at coreptkc.com.

Article by Jenna Stones, DPT. Jenna is a physical therapist and movement specialist at CORE Strategies Physical Therapy, Sports Performance & Medical Fitness in Overland Park.  The CORE team specializes in rehabilitation and performance training for clients of all ages and activity levels. To learn more about how CORE can help you, visit www.coreptkc.com.  Contact Jenna at jenna@coreptkc.com.

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