Understanding Concussions Part 1: Education & Dangers

Football season is nearly over,like each preceding year; this season has been riddled with injuries such as ACL tears, muscle strains, ligament sprains, and concussions. Muscle and ligament injuries are usually not life threatening, but concussions can be.
In the United States, nearly 2 million people sustain some form of brain injury annually, leading to 1.4 million emergency room visits. In 2000 alone, direct and indirect associated costs of concussion reached $60 billion. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that 1.6 to 3.8 million concussions occur in sports and recreational activities annually, but this is an underestimate as to how many people suffering from a mild brain injury do not seek medical attention.
So what is a concussion?
A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or by a hit to the body that causes the head and brain to move rapidly back and forth. The resulting trauma from this sudden movement can cause damage to the brain cells.
Signs and symptoms of a concussion.
The person may report headache, dizziness, double vision, nausea, confusion, and impaired balance. The person may also not remember what happened before and/or after being hit, lose consciousness, vomit, and/or report sensitivity to loud sounds and bright lights.
These signs and symptoms may not appear right after being hit and can manifest minutes to days later. With that, the injured person should be re-assessed a few days after the incident. Having multiple of the above signs and symptoms may indicate more serious damage to the brain and can warrant a visit to the emergency room.
More serious signs and symptoms.
After the trauma occurs, blood may pool in the head with nowhere to go. This can lead to compression of the brain against the hard skull and cause serious injury. If this occurs some of the signs and symptoms include: loss of consciousness for any duration of time, unwavering headache, seizures, behavioral changes, dilated pupil on one side, and slurred speech. If any of these signs and symptoms is present, the person should go to the emergency room immediately.
The lasting effects of severe brain injury can be debilitating and affect all aspects of a person’s life. Receiving immediate help and knowing the signs and symptoms can be a lifesaver. The next part of this blog will talk more about recovery, returning to activity, and prevention so stay tuned!