How do I know if I have suffered a concussion?
With winter sports like Rugby league, Rugby Union, and Soccer now in full swing, it’s the time of year that a potentially dangerous condition becomes more prevalent in the offices of Northern Beaches physiotherapists, doctors and emergency rooms – Concussion.
What is a concussion?
Put simply, a concussion is a mild brain injury that can happen after a person has suffered an injury to the head from a collision, falling, or being hit in the head with an object.
Thankfully our soft gooey brains are protected by a hard skull casing, but when the head or body encounters a hard impact, the brain can bounce up against the hard skull wall, and injure it.
How do I know if I have a concussion?
After a head knock in the NRL, you’ll see the doctor asking the player about their symptoms, their state of mind and performing a quick physical exam.
An incorrect response to any question on the tests such as the Westmead posttraumatic amnesia scale is considered a positive for cognitive impairment after head injury:
- What is your name?
- What is the name of this place?
- Why are you here?
- What month are we in?
- What year are we in?
- What town/suburb are you in?
- How old are you?
- What is your date of birth?
- What time of day is it? (morning, afternoon, evening)
What are the symptoms of a concussion?
The symptoms immediately after and in the days and weeks following a concussion can be complex and vary between person to person.
The most common symptoms that can happen immediately after a concussion include:
- Memory loss – People sometimes forget what caused their injury, as well as what happened right before and after the injury.
- Dizziness or trouble with balance
- Nausea or vomiting
- Feeling very tired and acting cranky, irritable, or not like themselves
Symptoms that can happen hours to days after a concussion include:
- Trouble walking or talking
- Memory problems or problems paying attention
- Trouble sleeping
- Mood or behaviour changes
- Vision changes
How do I know if my concussion is actually something worse?
Because head injuries and concussions can be potentially life-threatening, they should be taken very seriously from the moment they occur.
You, or the person with you, should seek immediate medical attention if:
- You vomit more than 3 times
- You have a severe headache, or a headache that gets worse
- You have a seizure
- You have trouble walking or talking
- Your vision changes
- You feel weak or numb in part of your body
- You lose control over your bladder or bowels
How is a concussion treated?
A concussion does not usually need treatment. Most concussions get better on their own, but it can take time. Some people’s symptoms go away within minutes to hours. Other people have symptoms for weeks to months.
When symptoms last a long time, doctors call it “postconcussion syndrome.”
After a concussion, it is important to:
- Not drink alcohol while you are still having any symptoms of concussion
- Rest your brain – Avoid doing activities that need concentration or a lot of attention if they make you feel worse.
- Rest your body – Make sure to get plenty of sleep.
When can I play sports or do my usual activities again?
Prematurely returning to sports after a concussion is putting your health at risk.
It’s important to let your brain heal completely after a concussion. Getting another concussion before your brain has healed may lead to serious brain problems.
Do not go back to playing on the same day as your injury
With each concussion you suffer, the risk of future concussions increases.
For more information on concussions, how to treat them and how to return safely back to sport and work, give us a call to book an appointment.