Note! This advice must not replace your doctor’s recommendations. All suspected concussions should be evaluated by a physician.
If you or your children play or follow sports, you’ve surely heard about concussions. A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury. Direct impact to the head (i.e. hitting your head on the field of play), a blow to the body (i.e. body check in hockey, a fall in a jungle gym), or sudden jarring (i.e., football tackle) can all result in a concussion. When any of these happen, the brain shakes or shifts inside the skull, which may damage brain cells. Concussions are common injuries. Although most resolve with good care within a month, some can be serious and become life-threatening.
Compared to a scraped knee, checking the damage due to concussion is much harder because a concussion is a brain injury that cannot be seen with routine x-rays, CT scans or MRI’s. Signs and symptoms of a concussion range from physical, cognitive, emotional and sleep disturbances. These can appear immediately or hours after an impact. Concussion can only be properly diagnosed medically.
What do I do when a concussion is suspected?
It is important for the injured person to stop playing. Those around the person should observe signs and symptoms, and the person should go to a physician for assessment. If any RED FLAG symptoms are observed (i.e. neck pain, deteriorating consciousness, confusion, severe headache, seizure, double vision, repeated vomiting, weakness or tingling in extremities, increasing restlessness) call 911 immediately.
Read this blog to learn what to do when your child, friend, or teammate suffers a concussion. It provides a link to concussion resources and post-concussion strategies for parents, players, and coaches.
How Long Does It Take to Recover From a Concussion?
The timeline for recovery from a concussion varies from person to person. That’s why it’s a good idea for anyone who suffers from a concussion to work as a team with a physician, their family, and if applicable, coaches and their school. Children who have experienced a concussion may take longer than the average one-month recovery period for adults. Doctors follow protocols for diagnosing, treating and clearing people to return to activities after concussion has occurred.
Even after a person recovers, be aware of the recurrence of concussion symptoms, any persistent symptoms or deterioration in mood or mental functioning.
How Can You Prevent Concussions?
The old saying “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” couldn’t be more fitting. A few easy ways you can reduce the risk:
- Learn what concussions are and the importance of recognizing symptoms.
- For sports that involve contact, teach players how to make contact safely and responsibly.
- Choose safe environments to play in.
- It is crucial to prevent further concussions in individuals who have previously had one. Make sure players have been cleared by their doctor.
- While helmets are technically not effective in preventing concussions, they are effective in preventing more severe brain injuries. Always wear a helmet or protective head gear in sports and activities where there contact or falls may occur. Read more on choosing helmets for young children.
For more information on concussions and reducing their risks contact Physical Activity Services at HealthLink BC (8-1-1). Or consult the Parachute Canada website http://parachutecanada.org/, and the CATT on-line modules for more audience-specific guidelines (coaches, teachers, medical professionals) that are based on the most current international scientific evidence, (https://cattonline.com/).
Parachute Canada: https://www.facebook.com/parachutecanada