A Concussion Discussion: Keeping your head in the game!

concussion discussion

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With football season upon us, it’s important to talk about one of the leading injuries in this sport … Concussions.  In fact, almost 300,000 traumatic brain injuries occur each year in sports related injuries.  Football is considered a high contact sport, which means player versus player interactions are very physical.  However, a brain injury/concussion can occur in ANY sport, even in non contact sports like cycling and tennis.  It’s important to know the signs and risks, because traumatic  brain injuries can lead to permanent damage or even death.

According to the CDC , a “bump, jolt, or penetrating injury to the head can disrupt the normal function of the brain.”  This can range from something as simple as a headache to something as serious as memory loss or unconsciousness.

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There are two types of head injury classifications; open and closed.  Open head injuries occur when an object actually penetrates the head, fractures the skull, and destroys viable brain tissue.  These are very traumatic injuries and need immediate medical attention to prevent further damage, brain tissue loss, and infection.  Closed head injuries involve an outside force impacts the head but causes no skull fracture, and no visible damage.  Sometimes, MRI’s or CT scans may not show the immediate damage from a closed head injury.  In fact, sometimes the only way to know that a closed head injury has occurred is from reported symptoms.

Naturally, with sports like football (also hockey and wrestling), there is a lot of head on head contact.  Even with proper helmets and padding, the player’s brain can still “bump against the inside of the skull.”  This can cause bleeding in the membranes that surround the brain, tears in the nerve fibers, actual tissue damage.  Please also note that a brain injury like this can also occur from non sports related injuries like car accidents or falls.

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concussion football

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Here are the signs/symptoms to be on the lookout for:

  • Confusion
  • Dizziness/Poor balance
  • Nausea/Vomiting
  • Memory Loss
  • Headache
  • Dilated/uneven pupils
  • Slurred speech
  • Fatigue
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Sensitivity to light or sound
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Irritability

Some of these symptoms may appear immediately, while others take days or weeks or sometimes months to emerge.  These symptoms are not to be taken lightly and should be addressed by a medical professional ASAP.  It could be the difference between a career ending head blow and playing successfully for many years to come; between life and death.

football helmet concussion

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Head injuries CAN be prevented:

  • Concussions can be avoided by wearing proper headgear and practicing safety in sports and activities.
    • Equipment should be INSPECTED and REPLACED on a regular basis!!
  • Wear a helmet when biking, horseback riding, skiing or any activity with high risk of head injury.
  • Tread carefully on slippery surfaces.
  • Walk, never run, around pools and on ice.
  • Stay alert and look out for other skaters when you’re at the rink.
  • Cut clutter to avoid falls in your home.  Pick up loose toys and clothes from the floor, and keep stairs and hallways clear.
  • Never play on stairs and take each step at a time.
  • Buckle up.  Prevent whiplash and head injuries by wearing your seatbelt.
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Information obtained from Advance.com and Advance Concussion Handout.  Please click on these links to see the full articles/handouts.

West Rehab has recently joined with the STOP sports injuries campaign to battle this epidemic of concussions/brain injuries and other sports related injuries.  See more information about this campaign at our blog: WEST and STOP.

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