Unlike some types of head injuries, concussions tend to be common in the United States. Maybe your child was concussed while playing a sport. Or, maybe your spouse faces a concussion after a slip-and-fall accident. Whatever the specific situation for your family, if a loved one has sustained a concussion, you need to learn more about this injury. While concussions are fairly common, this does not mean that they should be taken lightly. Any head injury needs to be taken seriously. You can learn more about concussions here.
What is a Concussion?
A concussion is a form of traumatic brain injury (TBI) that impacts how the brain functions. As TBIs go, this issue is a mild form of trauma. But, it can still have serious implications for a loved one. Concussions usually happen due to some type of blow to the head. This might happen in a car accident, during a fall, or when a person is playing a sport. Violent shaking of the head could also cause a concussion.
We all know that accidents happen, and sometimes concussions are out of our control. However, there are some preventative measures that can be taken to reduce the likelihood of a concussion occuring. Consider preventative measures such as:
- Wearing a seatbelt. Many concussions occur in car accidents. They can be prevented by wearing a seatbelt and of course, driving carefully.
- Reduce the risk of falls. Make sure that there is nothing to trip over in your home and that if a surface is slippery, you alert the rest of your family to this issue. This can help prevent falls that could lead to concussion.
- Using proper equipment when playing sports. Many concussions happen while a person is playing a sport. Even in non-contact sports, people can fall or there can be incidental contact that can cause a concussion. Make sure your family takes the proper precautions by wearing appropriate sports equipment, such as helmets and padding.
Concussions can range from serious to mild. A serious concussion might cause a person to lose consciousness and experience lingering symptoms. On the other hand, a mild concussion can be so mild that a person does not even realize that they are concussed. This is why in the case of any head trauma, it is important to look for symptoms of a concussion. A person might not realize that they are concussed, but they still need treatment. Some common symptoms of this issue are:
- Feeling pressure in the head
- Memory loss, particularly around the event
- Ringing in the ears
- Slurred speech
- Delayed brain function/ability to respond to things
- Sensitivity to noise or light
- Sleep issues
It is important to remember that these symptoms will only point to this issue if some kind of head trauma has occurred. Experiencing one or a few of these symptoms without any trauma to the head means that a concussion did not occur. This is especially important to keep in mind for some of the more common symptoms, such as a headache, nausea, fatigue, etc. Without an accident, these symptoms probably point to another type of problem.
These symptoms might appear almost immediately, while some might be delayed hours or even days. After an accident involving the head, it is important to stay vigilant and watch out for any of these symptoms in the hours or days that follow.
Going to the doctor after a blow to the head is always a good idea. Because head injuries can be so serious, it is best to be safe and get checked out. If you notice any of the above symptoms in a loved one, make sure that they see a doctor. This is especially important if you suspect that a child has sustained a concussion. Concussion symptoms and complications can be more serious in children than in adults, since their bodies are still developing.
As I’ve already stated, concussions can range from mild to severe. Some concussions also lead to further complications. A few common complications include:
- Multiple concussions. The verdict is out on what exactly happens to a person when they experience multiple concussions over time, but many researchers believe that having multiple concussions makes a person more likely to develop lasting symptoms and brain function issues.
- Post-traumatic headaches. A person who experiences concussions might have headaches that persist weeks or even months after the injury occurs.
- Post-concussion syndrome. As with headaches, people might experience other symptoms well after the injury occurs.
- Post-traumatic vertigo. A person might experience vertigo like symptoms after sustaining a concussion for weeks or months after the injury.
- Second impact syndrome. If a person experiences a second concussion before the first one has fully healed, it could lead to rapid swelling of the brain. In some cases, this brain swelling can be fatal. Although this complication is rare, it can have serious implications. For this reason, it is important to help your loved one take measures to prevent a second concussion if they sustain one. For example, if your loved one plays a sport, make sure that they do not return to their team until they have fully healed.
As mentioned above, if you suspect that your loved one has this issue, take them to see a doctor as soon as possible. If you have any further questions about concussions, please contact my office. I am happy to take your call and provide additional resources.