As student athletes return to class, there is one topic that students, parents, educators and caregivers need to be aware of — concussions.
A concussion is an injury to the brain that can be caused by a blow to the head or a sharp movement of the head and neck. This causes the brain to move inside of the skull, resulting in damage to the brain. This damage can affect how the brain processes information and the signals that it sends to the rest of the body.
Concussions are serious medical conditions that should be treated with the utmost care.
Facts about concussions
♦ If suspected of a head injury athletes should NOT participate in any physical activity until they are cleared by a medical professional.
♦ Just because you did not lose consciousness does not mean that you do not have a concussion.
♦ Imaging such as a CT scan or an MRI is not usually necessary.
♦ Headache is the most common symptom, but you do not have to have a headache to have a concussion.
When should I call a doctor?
♦ If the symptoms worsen.
♦ If you hit your head again.
♦ If you have trouble completing assignments and tasks. Concussions can change the brain and slow down the processing speed. This may mean that your child needs longer to complete assignments and tasks.
Concussions can be marked by several symptoms, so sometimes you might recognize how injured you really are. Remember, a headache is not always a symptom. Here is a complete list of possible symptoms:
Loss of consciousness
Pressure in head
Nausea or vomiting
Blurred or double vision
Sensitive to light
Sensitive to noise
Feeling slowed down
Feeling “in a fog”
“Don’t feel right”
Fatigue or low energy
Trouble falling asleep
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, or your symptoms are increasing, call your doctor.
Frequently asked questions
Is it safe for someone with a concussion to sleep?
Yes. While it has been said for a long time that a person with a concussion should not be allowed to sleep, research shows if a person is alert and holding a conversation and their symptoms are not worsening, they can sleep.
When should I go to the ER?
If you experience one or more of the following symptoms after a head injury, or if the symptoms worsen, seek medical help immediately:
♦ Initial improvement followed by worsening symptoms
♦ Bleeding or clear fluid from the ears/nose
♦ Weakness or inability to move limbs
♦ One pupil bigger than the other
♦ Slurring of speech
♦ Convulsions or seizures
♦ Blurred or loss of vision
♦ Very drowsy or cannot be awakened
How long does it take for a concussion to heal?
Based on severity, the symptoms can take days, weeks, or months to disappear. There are many recovery guidelines that will decrease the healing time:
♦ Limit activity.
♦ Keep surroundings calm and quiet.
♦ Seek medical advice (and follow it).
♦ Avoid visual and sensory stimuli, including video games and loud music.
♦ Stay off your cell phone
What medicine can I give for headaches?
During the first 24 hours no medication should be used because it can mask the symptoms of the concussion. Never take ibuprofen or aspirin with a head injury. If you choose to provide medication for headache, acetaminophen (Tylenol) is best.