Concussions and Their Impact
We often hear of someone having a concussion. What does a diagnosis of concussion mean?
A concussion is all about impact. The impact has to be strong enough to bounce the brain against the side of the skull. A concussion usually results from a blow to the head, but this is not always the case. A hard enough body blow can create the same bounce within the skull.
We usually think of concussion injuries through high-impact sports like football, rugby, and hockey. Surprisingly, however, people slip and fall down hard enough to get concussions as well. Car accidents, too, contribute their fair share.
How is a diagnosis of concussion made?
There are varying symptoms that might be diagnosed as concussive. Three basic indicators are looked for in order to determine the condition.
Physical symptoms are dizziness, vomiting, poor balance, and a “glassy-eyed” look. Sleeping too much or too little may occur.
Cognitive, or thinking, manifestations include distractibility and forgetfulness.
Emotional problems such as depression, irritability, moodiness, and inappropriate behavior can be indications of a concussion.
Is loss of consciousness an important indication of concussion?
Loss of consciousness is sometimes seen with a concussion, but it is not the first sign to look for. Instead, momentary lapse of memory is a better determiner of a concussion. People with concussions will sometimes be unable to recall their accident. This does not necessarily mean loss of consciousness, but it may indicate a brain injury.
Should a person with suspected concussion visit a doctor?
Considering that concussions often happen through a hard blow to the head, jaw, or body, it is best to see a physician after such an accident. The exact cause of a concussion cannot be determined, and symptoms may seem vague. A concussion cannot be determined by X-ray. Diagnosis will take into account an individual’s medical history, the type of activity they were doing, or the sport that they were playing. Children should be watched closely after a concussive blow, as their brains are continuously developing and more prone to injury.
Once a diagnosis is made, signs of worsening brain injury, such as seizures, headaches, increased nausea or confusion, inability to awaken, or trouble with balance should be noted at once.
How can concussions be prevented?
Accidents cannot always be prevented. However, certain safety rules should be followed in every situation. Rules are put in place to protect people from injuries to the brain and body.
For instance, helmets are required for sports such as football. Often, helmets are not worn when skating, skateboarding, or biking. A hard fall from a skateboard can easily result in serious head injury. Horseback riding is another sport that often disregards helmet use, yet a concussion can occur after a fall from a horse.
Athletes collide. When two people at speed collide, there is going to be an impact. The American Academy of Pediatrics’ Council on Sports Medicine and Fitness has suggested restrictions on hockey players ages 11-15 from body checks, or attempting to separate another player from the puck with a collision, as concussions can result from the impact.
Toddlers need to be gated from steep stairs to prevent serious falls. Playgrounds for older children should be cushioned with sand or mulch, not gravel.
Age-appropriate car or booster seats should be chosen. Booster seats work well to seat toddlers at a table, but a child can easily topple to the floor and sustain a head injury.
Concussions are not always fleeting injuries. Long-term and disastrous results have occurred for certain NFL football players. Some have experienced serious mood changes and behaviors, as well as indications of brain deterioration.
Prevention is the best remedy for concussions.