From The Trainer’s Room: Know, recognize the signs and symptoms of a concussion
The media is constantly showing violent hits in sports and the injuries have sparked medical research and education into concussions and the long-term effects they may cause. Many changes in the way concussions are handled will greatly benefit an athlete’s health not only today, but in the future.
A concussion is defined as “a traumatic injury to the brain that alters mental status or causes other symptoms.”
Concussions can be caused by a direct blow to the head or an indirect blow to the body that can violently shake the head. When a concussion occurs, the brain typically is accelerated quickly and can make contact with the inside of the skull causing a bruise or can be twisted or stretched, causing a dysfunction of normal brain activity. Many concussions are often overlooked because athletes think “they just got their bell rung,” “didn’t get knocked out” or “just have a headache.”
Though we have been better educated better in recent years, there is still a lot to learn regarding signs, symptoms and how to manage a concussion.
How do you know if you have a concussion?
First, you need to look for signs and symptoms. The most common symptoms include an individual appearing dazed or confused, headache, dizziness, balance difficulties, visual problems, short- or long-term memory difficulties, not feeling right, sensitivity to light or noise, difficulty concentrating. If any of these signs or other symptoms occur following a collision, a concussion should be assumed and the athlete should be held out of participation and referred to a qualified physician for proper diagnosis and management.
It is always best to err on the side of caution as the athlete is at a higher risk of a second concussion that may occur before the first one has healed. This additional injury is second impact syndrome, which can lead to further injury, or even death.
Chris Phillips is a certified athletic trainer and strength and conditioning specialist and a former NHL athletic trainer.