Athletes and Concussions
A hard hit, accidental fall, or devastating collision might result in a concussion. Some people consider concussions to be a part of sports, especially full-contact games. However, they are extremely serious conditions that require immediate medical attention and follow up procedures. Recently, there has been a campaign to increase the rules and regulations of athletes who sustain concussions, to prevent them from returning to a sport too soon.
Why Concussions are Underestimated
From minor concussions to major concussions, they all interfere with the functioning of the brain. The interference is temporary, having an effect on memory, reflexes, judgment, speech, balance, and coordination. Surprisingly, there are people that do not even know they have had a concussion as they are not always accompanied by a loss of consciousness. In fact, most people do not lose consciousness or black out when having a concussion. Because they involve the brain, no type of concussion should be taken lightly. When the brain is damaged, the potential consequences can range from the short-term to the long-term. Fortunately, it is common for people to recover fully from a concussion with the proper rest and treatment. Understanding the symptoms and being receptive to them is the best kind of protection.
Symptoms of Concussions
Many people do not realize that the symptoms of concussions might last for days, weeks, or even longer. They do not necessarily appear quickly, making it more challenging to diagnose and treat them. Confusion and amnesia are the two most popular symptoms of concussions - specifically, the loss of memory. Length and extent of memory loss varies, and depends on the cause of the concussion. Athletes need to also watch for headaches, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, slurred speech, and fatigue. Ringing in the ears is another sign of a possible concussion. The delayed symptoms of a concussion include memory or concentration problems, sleep disturbances, sensitivity to light and/or noise, irritability, and depression. No matter how long it has been since the head is injured, any of these should be a cause for concern.
Concussions and Sports
Perhaps the worst thing that an athlete can do is to begin playing a sport before a concussion is healed. The Centers for Disease Control reported 3 million concussions in sports each year in the United States. Equally as alarming is the fact that concussions are only second to motor vehicle accidents in the leading causes of traumatic brain injuries for ages 15 to 24. Responding to the dangerous situation, the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) is suggesting that any athlete with a suspected concussion must be removed from play until they are evaluated by a physician with specialized training in sports concussions. Overall, the AAN has a total of 5 recommendations for handling concussions; one mentioned above plus four more. The advice is based on education for coaches, trainers, and parents, the availability of certified athletic trainers for all events and practices, and the ways an athlete can be cleared to resume playing the sport. Check with a doctor to learn more about the preventative measures and treatment options for sports concussions.