Traumatic Brain Injury or Concussion and Winter Sports

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All blows to the head should be taken seriously, even if there is no immediate sign or symptom. Therefore, early diagnosis and treatment is very important for full recovery, as well as prevention of a second concussion. We are especially pleased to share this information now because January is National Winter Sports Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) Awareness month.

Concussions, or traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), result from one of the following:

A bump or blow to the head, or
A fall or impact that violently shakes the head and body.
Signs and symptoms of a concussion may include:

Headache
Temporary loss of consciousness
Confusion
Not remembering the traumatic event
Dizziness
Ringing in the ears
Nausea or vomiting
Slurred speech
Less ability to concentrate
Sleep disturbances
Experts recommend that:

An athlete with a possible concussion cannot return to play until after he or she has been evaluated by a health care professional trained in evaluating and managing concussions. For children and adolescents, the evaluation should be done by a health care professional trained in evaluating and managing pediatric concussions.

All athletes who have had a concussion should not return to play on the same day of the injury. The signs and symptoms of a concussion may not be obvious. Furthermore, if they occur, they can last for days, weeks or longer. While most people who suffer concussions have a full recovery, some people experience damaging effects that are long-term, or even permanent.

6 Concussion Myths and Facts:

Myth 1. A simple test can be used to diagnose a concussion. 

Fact: Even for individuals who are showing few or no signs from a suspected concussion, a full neurological exam by a physician experienced with concussions should evaluate vision, hearing, balance, memory, concentration, coordination, and reflexes. For serious trauma, including accidents and falls associated with exaggerated or continuous post-injury symptoms, a CAT scan or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) test, both of which are x-ray tests should me done although they don’t always show a concussion. not improving or getting worse.

Myth 2. If the injured person says they feel fine, listen to them because they usually are.

Fact: This is never a good idea, especially with athletes who almost always want to get back in the game. Further, they may not have good judgment after a head injury or know what symptoms they should be looking for after impact. In addition, it might be days or weeks before signs of concussion begin to appear.

Myth 3. Sleeping is dangerous if you have a concussion.

Fact: This is false! In fact, sleep, rest and taking the appropriate time to heal is key to overcoming a head injury.

Myth 4. Concussions affect people of all ages the same way.

Fact: Not true! Children may not present symptoms of concussions until months or even years after the initial trauma occurred. That’s why it’s important to monitor people of all ages with head injuries (especially if injury occurred at a young age) throughout their lives to help them cope.

Myth 5. People who have had a concussion should avoid all pain remedies (over the counter/OTC or prescribed).

Fact: This is also false! If a person is in pain after a concussion, there are remedies available. Consult the physician who is managing the condition and ask for pain medication if concussion-related headaches occur. In many cases, acetaminophen (such as Tylenol) can be used to treat pain, while aspirin and ibuprofen (such as Advil, Motrin) should be restricted because these meds can increase the chance of bleeding. Reasons like this explain why it’s so important to consult your doctor first.

Myth 6. Concussions are usually not serious, and after a few days of rest, the affected person can return to his or her normal activities.

Fact: This is especially false! One of the biggest threats to patients with head injuries is a second injury that occurs before the original concussion has had time to heal. This condition, called “second impact syndrome”, can result in life-long and very damaging symptoms, and even death.

Concussions ARE a big deal. If you or a loved one has experienced any sort of head trauma, talk with your doctor. Getting treatment early, taking time to heal and avoiding future head trauma can decrease the odds of long-term negative health results.

Sources:

1. “Concussion and Mild TBI.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website, www.cdc.gov. Available at http://www.cdc.gov/concussion/index.html. Accessed Feb. 24, 2014.
2. “Diseases and Conditions: Concussion.” Mayo Clinic website, www.mayoclinic.com. Available at http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/concussion/basics/tests-diagnosis/con-20019272. Accessed Feb. 24, 2014.
3. “Sports Concussion: Myths and Facts.” Health section of U.S.News and World Report website, http://health.usnews.com. Available at http://health.usnews.com/health-news/news/articles/2012/02/29/sports-concussion-myths-and-facts; Feb. 29, 2012. Accessed Feb. 24, 2014.
4. “Brain Injury in Children.” Brain Injury Association of America website, www.biausa.org. Available at http://www.biausa.org/brain-injury-children.htm. Accessed Jan. 20, 2013.
Tags: athletes, brain injury rehabilitation, brain trauma, concussion, concussion treatment, concussions, TBI, traumatic brain injuries, traumatic brain injury.

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