While the scientific understanding is increasing, it means that there are many layers to dig through when attempting to self-educate on the topic. By Googling concussion, you find conflicting advice, myths and confusion. The purpose of this post is to help take away some of the confusion, and provide you with the simple yes/no questions that I ask myself when identifying a concussion in an athlete.
What is a Concussion?
The actual mechanism of injury results when the brain moves in the scull, and makes contact with the inner surface of the bone. This can cause physical damage such as bleeding or trauma to the fibers and tethers that hold the brain in place. More commonly, there is no physical damage, however a chemical cascade and inflammation occur that alter the function of the brain.
What Does a Concussion Look Like?
The Consensus Statement published in 2013 helps to summarize the potential symptoms in different categories:
- Reported Symptoms including headache, dizziness, inability to focus eyes, sensitivity to noise or light
- Physical Signs including loss of consciousness, or difficulty staying awake
- Behavioral Changes such as irritability, personality or emotional changes
- Cognitive impairment such as a slow reaction time, or alterations in short and long term memory
- Sleep disturbances such as insomnia, drowsiness or slowness to wake
That being said, any change to the normal following a mechanism of injury should be viewed as a sign of concussion.
So What to do if an Athlete has Sign or Symptoms?
To ensure that the correct decisions are made for your children, players, student, or for yourself, an Athletic Therapist should be present at all high-risk activities to act as a third-party activity for all athletes.