Concussions are more than brain bruises from falling. They are considered traumatic brain injuries since the brain moves within the skull. Brains are not muscle. They aren't masses of tough tissue able to withstand too many hits on a football field. The brain is soft and gelatinous. Unnatural movement pits the brain against the skull much like dropping an apple and bruising it. Concussions usually heal with a little TLC and time resting at home.
How Are Concussions Diagnosed?
Taking a blow to the head during a fall or from being shaken can cause concussions. Adults and children experience similar symptoms but express how they feel differently. According to the Mayo Clinic, symptoms can include but aren't limited to:
- Headache, pressure, and memory issues
- Feeling dazed and confused, not remembering what or how the concussion happened
- Stroke-like symptoms, such as slurred speech and delayed responses
- Fatigue, nausea, and vomiting
- Sleep disturbances, irritability, and depression
- In kids, excessive crying, seizures, and listlessness
Symptoms can be sudden or innocuously appearing over time. When symptoms appear, it's imperative to get checked out by your doctor or by the emergency room. You may need a cat scan or an MRI. Children and senior citizens should be seen if you know that they've been shaken or have more than a light bump on the head. Don't wait more than a day or two for adults and children to be seen should symptoms appear, or head to the ER immediately after trauma.
How Are Concussions Treated?
Hospitalizations aren't always necessary. Treatment used to include keeping the concussed person awake for hours, not letting them sleep. This was in fear that once they fell asleep that they would not awaken. Doctors have since dispelled this myth. Pain relievers aren't always necessary either. If you feel you need a pain reliever, doctors often recommend acetaminophen as ibuprofen and aspirin can exacerbate occult bleeding in the brain. Always consult your physician before taking any medication or herbal supplement. Do not self-diagnose and self-medicate; instead, seek brain condition treatment from a doctor. No two brain injuries are the same.
How To Prevent Concussions
Prevention is always better than cure. Here are some tips for preventing concussions.
- Schools should have parents sign liability waivers before children can participate in sports like football and gymnastics since concussions cause by sports injuries sideline students and cause concern about their long-term effects on developing brains.
- Wear personal protective equipment as required by your sport, work, or recreational activity.
- Buckle up in vehicles.
- Keep homes safe from falls.
- Never, ever, shake someone. Shaken baby syndrome can cause serious damage and is often prosecutable by law. Shaking doesn't have to be violent to concuss a child or senior citizen.
Traumatic brain injuries like concussions, not occurring in sudden accidents, can be prevented with education and simply following sport protocols.