Most athletes (and parents of athletes) have been made acutely aware of the danger of concussions. It is estimated that more than 300,000 sports-related concussions occur in both contact and non-contact sports each year. But athletes aren’t the only susceptible population. Data from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) suggests there are hundreds of thousands of non-sports-related concussions each year.
The CDC defines a concussion as a type of mild traumatic brain injury, caused by a bump or blow to the head that makes the brain move quickly back and forth. While not considered life threatening, concussions can have serious and lasting effects. Everyone should be aware of the symptoms and implications of concussions. This list can help you detect, treat and heal from this type of injury.
What are the symptoms of a concussion?
Anyone who has taken a bump to the head should be evaluated for a concussion. The CDC lists headache, blurry vision, irritability and sleepiness as potential symptoms. Some of these symptoms may appear right away, but others can take weeks to detect. More severe symptoms such as slurred speech, severe headache that won’t go away and loss of consciousness should be immediately evaluated by a medical professional.
What are the most common causes of concussions?
Sure, you’re more likely to have a concussion if you’re playing contact sports, but just about everyone is vulnerable. According to data from the CDC, falls account for the largest portion of concussions, followed by car accidents. High school athletes account for 13.2 percent of overall concussion injuries, most commonly in football, soccer and basketball.
Should I go to the hospital if I think I have a concussion?
Even though most concussions are mild, the effects can be serious if left untreated. A medical professional should evaluate a potentially concussed person, especially if he or she is a child or teen. Teenage brains are more susceptible to long-term damage from a concussion than other age groups, particularly teenagers who play contact sports. Immediate medical attention can help speed recovery time and minimize damage, so it’s best to play it safe and make a trip to the emergency room after a blow to the head.
How do I recover from a concussion?
If you have been diagnosed with a concussion, contact sports and strenuous activity should be avoided until you’ve been released to resume that activity by a doctor. Mentally demanding tasks can also intensify headaches, depression and anxiety, which can follow a concussion. According to the CDC, trying to “tough out the pain” and return to your normal routine too quickly will likely aggravate symptoms and inhibit the healing process. Rest is perhaps the most important part of concussion recovery, as the brain needs plenty of time to heal.
Even if a head injury looks like just a minor bump, it could still be serious. Time is of the essence when dealing with a concussion, so knowing how to detect and seek treatment is important in the event that the injury is more severe than it looks.
For more information on concussion detection, treatment and the long-term effects, visit the Centers for Disease Control for a comprehensive overview.