Fall sports season is in full swing across the country and with that, brings an increase in sports related injuries, particularly in young children. Sports injuries are often in a league of their own from scraped knees, broken bones and the most serious sports injury of all, concussions. It is important to be aware of the symptoms of a concussion. This way, if a child has suffered a hard hit in their football or soccer game, you know what to look for and when to seek medical attention, which is critical for their safety and well-being.
What is a concussion?
Concussions are a common occurrence in high impact and team sports, and are caused when there are significant movements of the brain. When the brain is moved in any direction at a fast speed, the patient may become unconscious. Becoming unconscious as a direct result of a sports injury is another common symptom, and should be evaluated immediately. While becoming unconscious during a sports injury may be a clear indicator that someone is suffering from a concussion, the majority of symptoms signifying a sports related concussion are not as clear-cut.
Some of the most common symptoms include feeling spacey, acting confused, being drowsy or having a hard time waking up, suffering an extreme headache, memory loss, nausea, vomiting and seeing flashing lights or dots in front of your eyes. These symptoms can range from mild to severe, and depending on which end of the spectrum the symptoms fall on, medical care should be sought immediately. It is important to be notified when someone has hit their head so you can be on the lookout for these symptoms, which can easily be misconceived as being caused by other issues. For example if you had a long week you probably would not think twice about having a hard time waking up, or trying to remember something because, you could chalk it up to being tired.
Once you seek medical care for the symptoms of a concussion, your doctor or emergency room physician will begin a series of tests, which evaluate both your physical abilities and nervous system. Concussions can cause a change in the size of your pupils, your ability to think rationally, and can affect your coordination. By checking these functions, your physician will have a better understanding of the severity of your concussion. If your physician has additional concerns regarding your concussion, he or she may also perform tests that include an EEG, Head CT scan, and an MRI of the head. These diagnostic exams will allow the physician to view a clear picture of the brain, to determine whether there is any advanced damage.
Your physician will most likely send you home with instructions to take it easy, take an over-the-counter medication if your headache persists and rest for a short period of time. If the concussion was caused by a sports related injury, your physician may advise you to refrain from physical contact for at least, two weeks as a way to give your brain the chance to fully heal. Other than resting and taking it easy, recovery from a concussion is a process that takes time. If the original concussion was not severe, you may feel like you are back to normal within just a few short days. However, if your concussion was on the severe side, it may take weeks or months before you feel back to your old self.
After suffering from a concussion, your condition should be monitored at home over the next several weeks after you return to your normal routine. If you begin to display any signs of the following emergency symptoms of a concussion, you should return to your physician at once. Symptoms include: changes in alertness and consciousness, convulsions, muscle weakness on one or both sides of the body, persistent confusion or repeated vomiting.
Concussions can be a serious medical concern but if treated immediately and care is taken in returning back to your routine and heavy contact sports, the prognosis for individuals suffering from a concussion is very optimistic. While you may still experience irritability, trouble concentrating and blurry vision, your symptoms should go away in a few days with rest and by following doctors orders.
Information on the common symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of concussions is brought to you from author, Sarah Smith and Grossinger Neuropain Specialists