The Signs of a Concussion

Concussion what are they? What are the signs? What can be done? They have always been in sports but were brought to the forefront of sports when the 2015 movie “Concussion” came to the theaters staring Will Smith. Athletes these days grow more and more physical and aggressive which leads to lots of injuries and none more serious than a concussion. A good article to read about how concussions changed the life of one player/coach is “Hit By volleyballs: Concussions have changed coach Corine Atchison’s Life”

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WHAT IS A CONCUSSION?

A concussion is a type of brain injury. It can happen when the head hits an object or a moving object strikes the head. It also can happen when the head experiences a sudden force without being hit directly. Each year, 1.6 to 3.8 million concussions result from sports injuries in the United States. Almost nine percent of all US high school sports injuries involve concussions. Most concussions result in full recovery. However, some can lead to more severe injuries. Here are some alarming statistics!

WHAT ARE THE SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF CONCUSSION? Concussion signs are things you can observe about the athlete. For More info on signs! These include:

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WHO IS AT RISK FOR CONCUSSION? HOW CAN I KNOW IF I’m AT RISK?Click Here For more info.

Concussions bring a variety of short- and long-term potential consequences to an individual’s quality of life, including:

Second-Impact Syndrome

The most serious consequence is when a second traumatic event is sustained to the already concussed brain, before the first trauma has completely recovered. This is called
second-impact syndrome causing sudden swelling of the brain, exacerbating previous injury healing process and can be fatal.

  • 50% mortality rate in second-impact concussions.
  • 100% of those who survive have serious permanent neurological deficit such as paralysis, visual and language defects, loss of memory etc.

Seizures

Seizures typically occur immediately upon losing consciousness or within the first week of the injury.

  • Occur in about 5% of head injuries
  • Usually within the first 7 days
  • Occurs more often in skull fracture or cerebral contusion
  • Occur more often in adults

Seizure Risk Factors:

  • Post traumatic amnesia lasting longing than 12 hours
  • Intracranial bleeding
  • Persistent neurologic deficit

Post-Concussive Syndrome (PCS)

The most common consequence of a concussion is when the symptoms persist and cause complications with the quality of life, including:

  • Physical fatigue
  • Dizziness/vertigo, nausea
  • Headaches: Sensitivity to light, sound
  • Sleep disturbances (difficulty sleeping, staying awake or excessive daytime sleeping)
  • Emotional Impairment (personality changes, irritability, anxiety, depression)
  • Cognitive Impairment (aka “Brain fog” typically involving recent or short-term memory loss, poor attention and concentration)

People with a history of migraines are more vulnerable to concussion injury.
The Brain Doctor

Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE)

CTE is a progressive degenerative disease of the brain found in athletes (and others) with a history of repetitive brain trauma, including symptomatic concussions as well as asymptomatic sub-concussive hits to the head.

Brain scans show brains with CTE have a build-up of Tau protein, and look like a brain afflicted by Alzheimer’s disease. CTE, the focus of the NFL lawsuits, may also be affected by lifestyle factors that can add stress to the damaged brain, including smoking, alcohol abuse, drug use, poor diet and lack of exercise.

Additional Risks

  • The younger the athlete, the more vulnerable the brain is to concussion, and require longer recovery periods. For example: High school age athletes take longer to recover than older athletes. The brain continues developing through the age of 25. Therefore, concussions sustained before age 25, result in greater damage and potential risk to cognitive impairment.
  • A concussed athlete is more likely to sustain a repeat concussion with the greatest risk in the first seven days.
  • Athletes who have sustained three or more concussions are more likely to have memory and thinking problems.
  • Repeat concussions are slower to recover.
  • More than three concussions is associated with long-term cognitive impairment and emotional struggles.
  • Concussions can accelerate the onset of dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease.

The most serious consequence is a decrease in overall quality of life due to loss of memory, ability to focus your thinking, and making good decisions.

This article is not scare parents or players but to educate and bring awareness. Every season Putnam has offered a base line test for any one who would like to have a base to compare to if the thought of a concussion happens. You know your child, please help with their protection by educating them and yourselves on this topic.