A concussion is a common head injury, also known as a Mild Traumatic Brain Injury (MTBI). It is an injury that is caused by the brain being shaken around inside the skull after a direct blow to the head, or a sudden jerking of the head or neck when the body is hit. There is a misconception that you have to be knocked out to sustain a concussion, when in fact any contact to the head or body that causes rapid head movement can cause a concussion.
Symptoms of a Concussion**:
- Decreased Concentration – May have the inability to think or remember recent events. May appear dazed or stunned. People usually describe themselves as being ‘foggy’ or have a ringing in the ears.
- Vision problems – May have blurry, double vision or “see stars”. Light sensitivity is also common.
- Emotional Changes – May be irritable, sad, or nervous. Athletes with severe concussions may show unusual emotions, a personality change or inappropriate behaviour.
An athlete who has had one concussion is more likely to have another than an athlete who hasn’t been concussed
– Hard Facts about Concussions, Ithaca College
Recovering from a Concussion
- Get some rest: It is one of the best things you can do to help your brain recover; and when we say rest, we say both physical and cognitive rest. The new concussion consensus indicates that concussed individuals should rest for the first 24-48 hours and then have a gradual and progressive reintroduction to activity as long as symptoms don’t come back or get worse.
- Take it slow: Everyone recovers at a different pace, some symptoms can last for days, weeks, or longer. How quickly you improve depends on many different factors – the severity of the injury, your age, how many concussions you’ve had and how healthy you were before your concussion.
- Returning to Play: Remember that there is no such thing as a minor head injury; symptoms may become worse with exertion. An athlete should not return to play until cleared by a professional. Recommendations include a graduated and progressive return to play plan should be implemented, after a modified return to school/work program has been successful (this can be done concurrently with return to play).
Concussion is a topic that affects everyone in sport in some way whether you are a coach, athlete, trainer, physician, or director. If you wish to read more information on concussion prevention, symptoms, or recovery there are a lot of resources available to the sport community.
Here are a few links to get you started:
- Canadian Concussion Collaborative (CCC)
- SIRC – Concussion Resources
- The Brain Injury Association of Canada
- Stop Concussions Foundation
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
**This is not intended to be a comprehensive list, anyone that is suspected to have a concussion should always be seen by a medical professional.
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Harmon K, Drezner J, Roberts W, et al. American Medical Society for Sports Medicine position statement: concussion in sport. British Journal of Sports Medicine. January 2013;47(1):15-26.
King D, Brughelli M, Hume P, Gissane C. Assessment, Management and Knowledge of Sport-Related Concussion: Systematic Review. Sports Medicine. April 2014;44(4):449-471.
Meehan W, Mannix R, O’Brien M, Collins M. The Prevalence of Undiagnosed Concussions in Athletes. Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine. September 2013;23(5):339-342.
Mihalik J, Lengas E, Register-Mihalik J, Oyama S, Begalle R, Guskiewicz K. The Effects of Sleep Quality and Sleep Quantity on Concussion Baseline Assessment. Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine. September 2013;23(5):343-348.