With 3.8 million concussions occurring each year in the U.S. (based on data from the Centers for Disease Control), awareness about this serious injury is growing. With increased awareness, though, comes the increased possibility for confusion.
Did you know that the following could result in a concussion?
- Slips and falls
- Motor vehicle accidents/whiplash
- Sports injuries
- Bicycle accidents
- Physical abuse/assault
- Blast injuries (veterans and immigrants)
- Accidental bumps to the head
What is a concussion?
A concussion is a type of brain injury that changes the way the brain normally works. A concussion is often caused by a fall, bump, blow, or jolt to the head or body that causes the head and brain to move quickly back and forth. A concussion can be caused by a shaking, spinning for a sudden stopping and starting of the head. Even a “ding,” “getting your bell rung,” or what seems to be a mild bump or blow to the head can be serious.
A concussion can happen even if you haven’t been knocked out.
One of the difficulties for those experiencing one is that you can’t see a concussion. Signs and symptoms of concussions can show up right after the injury or may not appear or be noticed until days or weeks after the injury. An individual who may have had a concussion should not return to activity on the day of the injury and not until a health care professional says they are okay to return to activity at recommended levels.
If a concussion is suspected, what should someone do?
If an individual reports or displays one or more symptoms of a concussion after receiving a bump, blow or jolt to the head or body, h/she should be immediately removed from activity (this includes but is not limited to, work, athletics and exercise, driving, and so forth.) The individual should only return to activity with the permission of a health care professional experienced in evaluating concussions. Rest is key during recovery. Exercising or activities that require a lot of concentration (studying, working, meetings, etc.) may cause concussion symptoms to reappear or get worse.
Students who return to school after a concussion may need to spend fewer hours at school, take rest breaks, be given extra help and time, and spend less time reading, writing or on a computer or tablet. After a concussion, returning to sports at school is a gradual process and should be monitored by a health care professional.
Concussions affect each individual differently. Some may recover quickly and fully while others may have symptoms that last for days, weeks or even months.
The critical point to understand is that concussions are an injury, and like any injury, can be managed and treated to resolution, getting you back to your life.