Everything You Need to Know About Concussions

May 22, 2023

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Concussions, a type of traumatic brain injury, are extremely common on and off the sports field. This blog covers everything you need to know about them, including what causes them, how they’re treated, and how to prevent them.

Concussions are a type of traumatic brain injury (TBI) that can occur because of a blow or jolt to the head or body. They are common sports injuries but can also occur during recreational activities or as a result of a car collision. Regardless of how you sustained your concussion, they should never be taken lightly. 

As a certified ImPACT® concussion consultant, Dr. Jim Johnson, a former United States Air Force surgeon, knows firsthand how serious concussions are and how about 33% of concussions slip by undetected. 

Untreated and undertreated concussions can contribute to chronic symptoms, so seeking treatment for concussions is essential even if you never lose consciousness. 

Below, we explore everything you need to know about concussions, including their causes, symptoms (so you know when to seek medical care), how they’re diagnosed and treated, and how to prevent them. 

What causes concussions?

Concussions can result from various incidents, including falls, car accidents, physical assaults, and sports-related injuries. They occur when the impact causes the brain to move rapidly within the skull, leading to chemical changes and damage to brain cells. In short, your brain goes into “crisis mode.” 

How do you know if you have a concussion?

The signs and symptoms of a concussion can vary from person to person, and they may not always be immediately apparent. Some common symptoms include:

  • Headache or pressure in the head
  • Confusion or feeling foggy
  • Dizziness or balance problems
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Sensitivity to light or noise
  • Memory problems or difficulty concentrating
  • Changes in mood or behavior
  • Changes in sleep patterns, either with insomnia or excessive sleepiness 

It’s important to note that symptoms can develop right after the injury or may take several hours or days to appear. Therefore, seeking medical attention is crucial if you suspect a concussion, even if symptoms are not immediately present.

How are concussions diagnosed?

If you or someone else experiences a head injury, it is important to consult a health care professional for an accurate diagnosis. Depending on the situation and if you have other injuries, you may require emergency medical care.

Our team evaluates the symptoms to diagnose a concussion, conducts a physical examination, and may recommend additional tests, such as neuroimaging (e.g., CT scan or MRI), to rule out other possible injuries or complications.

Treating concussions 

The treatment of concussions primarily involves physical and cognitive rest. This means avoiding activities that may worsen symptoms, such as sports, vigorous exercise, or mentally demanding tasks. Even video games can be too stimulating after a concussion. 

Adequate rest and allowing the brain to heal are crucial for recovery. Sometimes, Dr. Johnson may prescribe medication to manage specific symptoms, such as headaches or sleep disturbances.

While your brain is healing, avoiding anything that increases your risk of injuring your brain is critical. Additionally, every concussion is unique, and the duration of symptoms can vary from days to weeks or even longer. Follow Dr. Johnson’s guidance carefully and gradually reintroduce activities once symptoms have resolved.

Preventing concussions 

Preventing concussions is key to maintaining brain health. You can reduce your risk of sustaining a traumatic brain injury with these tips: 

Wear protective gear

Use appropriate protective equipment, such as helmets, mouthguards, and padding, during sports or activities with a risk of head injury.

Follow safety guidelines

Adhere to safety guidelines and rules in sports and recreational activities. Avoid reckless behavior that may increase the risk of head injuries.

Maintain a safe environment

Ensure your home, workplace, and recreational areas are free from hazards that may cause falls or accidents.

Stay vigilant on the road

Always wear seat belts while driving or riding in a vehicle, and follow traffic rules to minimize the risk of motor vehicle accidents.

Educate yourself and others

Learn about concussions, their signs, and their symptoms. Share this knowledge with family, friends, and colleagues to promote awareness and safety.

It’s important to remember that sustaining multiple concussions or returning to activities too soon after a concussion can lead to more severe and long-lasting symptoms. Therefore, take the necessary time to recover fully before resuming regular activities.

Concussions are a serious concern that should be taken seriously. Understanding the causes, recognizing the symptoms, seeking appropriate medical care, and allowing sufficient time for recovery are essential steps in managing concussions. By following preventive measures and promoting safety, you can reduce the risk of concussions and ensure the well-being of yourself and your family. 

To learn more about concussions, call Advanced Sports Medicine today at 615-467-4636 or schedule an appointment online.