Understanding the Recovery Process from Sports Related Concussions

For all of the advancements we’ve made in medicine, there are still mysteries. While we have a better understanding of most of the body’s processes and how the body responds to injury, there is still a fair amount of uncertainty when it comes to issues of the brain. If you follow football or combat sports, you  are no doubt aware of the increasing concerns over the long term effects of suffering a sports-related concussion. Concussions are certainly a popular media topic and with good reason. While we are continuously learning more about concussions, what we do know is that they are quite serious and nothing to take lightly.

It’s important to realize that anyone can suffer a concussion and they occur in degrees. They are also relatively easy to cause. That’s why anyone who takes a blow to the head should exercise caution and keep an eye on their condition over the next day or so. The majority of people don’t even tell their doctors that they’ve suffered a relatively heavy blow to the head. This could be a potentially dangerous practice which could lead to issues down the road. However, athletes are clearly the ones that experience concussions with regularity or at least they are in a position where they could. That’s why understanding sports-related concussions is so important to an athlete’s health. Here is what you should know about concussions and what recovering from them can be like.


What is a concussion?

First, it’s important to identify what a concussion actually is. It is not simply a blow to the head because not every head injury results in a concussion. In recent years, doctors have expanded what can be considered a concussion. In previous decades, one of the criteria for diagnosis of a concussion was a loss of consciousness following the blow to the head. This is no longer the case. Now, we define a concussion as any injury that results in trauma to the brain. That’s why even severe whiplash could cause a concussion. Though you may not lose consciousness, or even get hit in the head directly, the violent and abrupt jarring of the brain can be a concussion.

Of course, this leads one to wonder what to look out for after an injury or accident that could be a sign of a concussion. Symptoms and the severity of those symptoms vary. But, here is generally how a concussion can present.


What are the signs of a concussion?

The most prominent symptom you will most likely experience is a headache. This is often a severe headache. One would expect that when the brain experiences a trauma. It may also present as neck pain depending on how the injury occurs. As stated previously, you may temporarily lose consciousness though this isn’t always the case for “milder” concussions. Don’t let the use of “mild” fool you. It’s still serious. You also may not even remember experiencing the injury.

Anticipate symptoms that revolve around your equilibrium as well. You may experience ringing in the ears, imbalance, unsteadiness, and nausea or vomiting. In the most severe instances, your senses may be affected. Your speech may be slurred, vision blurred, and ability to taste altered. If your cognitive abilities are impaired and you are overwhelmed with a feeling of sleepiness, seek help immediately.


What is the recovery process like?

Recovery doesn’t look the same for everyone as concussion symptoms can linger for longer depending on the individual and the severity of the injury. The most important thing to do is to receive medical attention for proper diagnosis and response. Your doctor will ask you questions about the event, if you can remember it. This will be followed by a battery of tests in order to evaluate any cognitive or neurological impairments. Your reflexes and sensory responses will also be tested. Most likely, imaging testing such as X-ray or MRI will be required if there is suspicion of serious injury. Issues like bleeding of the brain need to be identified as quickly as possible.

There are generally two courses of recovery. For minor concussions, it’s essentially doctor supervised rest while your brain heals. You will be closely monitored just in case new symptoms begin to present. In more severe concussions, surgery could be required in case there is structural damage or brain swelling.


Conclusion

Concussions are a serious issue that require professional evaluation. Head injuries and brain trauma are the most risky kinds of injuries because they vary so widely. Symptoms can also take awhile to present. Even worse, concussions are cumulative. That’s why if you’re an athlete you need to see a concussion specialist about sports-related concussions. Contact us today. The team at Acadania Neurosurgery is here to provide you with the care you need to maintain your health. If you suspect you have sustained a concussion, do not delay in seeking medical help.

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