What is a Concussion?
A concussion is a brain injury that can affect normal functions, including balance, memory, emotions, and problem-solving skills. A concussion can occur from head trauma or from a jolt of the body that causes your brain to shift and bruise inside the skull. These injuries can be followed by a loss of consciousness, but it doesn't always happen.
When Do Concussions Occur?
Concussions usually occur in contact sports like football, rugby or soccer, but also can occur in an unlimited number of other activities such as gymnastics, cheerleading, basketball, etc. In fact, there is little that doesn’t run the risk of a head trauma, as a concussion can even occur from minor falls or accidents.
What are the Symptons of a Concussion?
Knowing the symptoms of a concussion is an important skill for everyone, especially coaches and athletes who interact with those who have a heightened risk of head injury than average. While a full examination from a licensed professional should be done when one suspects a concussion, we can still provide you with signs and symptoms to be aware of:
- Brief loss of consciousness after the injury
- Memory problems
- Drowsiness or feeling sluggish
- Double vision or blurred vision
- Nausea or vomiting
- Sensitivity to light or noise
- Balance problems
- Slowed reaction to stimuli
It is also common for one to be irritable, emotional and have difficulty concentrating after the moment of impact and while recovering.
How can I tell if a young child is concussed?
There are other symptoms and signs to look for when an infant, toddler or young child becomes concussed. As they may lack the ability to communicate clearly, looking for concussion symptoms is vital in the correct handling of a child that has sustained head trauma.
- Appearing dazed
- Listlessness and tiring easily
- Irritability and crankiness
- Loss of balance and unsteady walking
- Crying excessively
- Change in eating or sleeping patterns
- Lack of interest in favorite toys
- Loss of abilities, like toilet training or other skills
When should I seek the care of a physician after head trauma?
The care of a physician, like the doctors at Gotham City Orthopedics, is always recommended after one has sustained head trauma that results in a concussion or a potential concussion. Emergency care is strongly advised when one is displaying any of the following symptoms:
- Repeated vomiting
- A loss of consciousness lasting longer than 30 seconds
- A headache that gets worse over time
- Changes in behavior, such as irritability
- Changes in physical coordination, such as stumbling or clumsiness
- Confusion or disorientation, such as difficulty recognizing people or places
- Slurred speech or other changes in speech
- Vision or eye disturbances, such as pupils that are bigger than normal (dilated pupils) or pupils of unequal sizes
- Lasting or recurring dizziness
- Obvious difficulty with mental function or physical coordination
- Symptoms that worsen over time
- Large head bumps or bruises on areas other than the forehead in children, especially in infants under 12 months of age
If you're experiencing any of the above symptoms, contact the doctors at Gotham City Orthopedics immediately.
Why is it so important to correctly diagnose people with concussions and to sit out in a sporting event after showing signs of a concussion?
The recognition of concussion symptoms is one of the most important steps in proper recovery from head trauma. This is due to the fact that after one is concussed, any further head trauma can make a situation much worse than it already is. In fact, though rare, a second injury can even result in death. This is why baseline testing before a season begins is so vital in the proper treatment of athletes.
What is Baseline Testing?
Baseline testing is a concussion testing system that helps to detect concussed individuals by setting criteria or a “baseline” that later testing can be based upon. Before the season begins, athletes are subjected to a series of physical, mental, visual and problem-solving tests. The results are compared to tests taken after sustaining head trauma to determine if return to play is possible.
How can I recover from a concussion?
Your physician at Gotham City Orthopedics will recommend a treatment plan for your individual condition, but concussions usually heal on their own with plenty of rest.
Light pain relievers might be recommended, like acetaminophen (Tylenol), for headaches and soreness. Avoiding aspirin and ibuprofen is a good idea, as they can increase the risk of bleeding.
Returning to play or engaging in other physical activities is definitely not recommended while recovering from a concussion, no matter how mild your head injury may be. Getting cleared to play after a concussion is something that should come from a licensed professional, such as any of the physicians from Gotham City Orthopedics.