Concussions are classified as traumatic brain injuries. They occur in various sports and affect athletes at all levels, from little leaguers to professionals.
Concussions in sports have become a significant issue. It has made headlines in recent years due to reports about the dangers of returning to the sport soon, in addition to research results on the lengthy impacts of the injury.
Recognizing concussions and providing appropriate treatment is particularly important for athletes because they typically take longer to recover than adults.
Furthermore, coaches, parents, and school administrators must be aware that concussion can cause various symptoms and can intrude not only with sports participation but also with school and social relationships. Most athletes will recover entirely from trauma, and knowing the different signs can aid healing.
Despite numerous attempts by specialists, there is no universally accepted definition of concussion. It is unknown whether a concussion causes any brain damage. Imaging tests, such as computed tomography (CT) scans and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans, generally do not detect any brain damage in concussion patients, such as bruising or bleeding.
However, a concussion temporarily impairs how the brain functions and processes information. After a trauma, for example, a patient may experience difficulties with balance, coordination, memory, and speech.
Concussion symptoms are usually transient. The majority of people recover in 7 to 10 days. Sadly, once athletes have suffered a concussion, they are more vulnerable to further concussions. Concussions can also have long-term effects, so prevention is critical.
A concussion is derived from the Latin word concusses, which means “to shake violently.” Trauma occurs when a force acts the brain to rush back and forth within the skull. This can be caused by a direct blow or a blow to the body that forces the head to rotate quickly.
Concussions are more common in certain sports, such as football, ice hockey, and soccer, but they can occur in any sport or recreational activity.
Symptoms aren’t always apparent. While it is widely thought that concussions result in loss of consciousness, many concussed people have not been “knocked out.”
A concussion can result in a variety of symptoms. These may appear immediately or may occur several times after the injury. Some symptoms, such as drowsiness, are physical. Others are cognitive, such as memory loss. Concussion patients are frequently more sentimental than usual.
The following are the most common concussion symptoms:
- Consciousness loss
- Memory lapses
- Dizziness and problems with balance
- Light sensitivity (photophobia)
- Difficulties communicating and speaking
- Maintaining mental focus is difficult.
- Vomiting and nausea
- Sleep pattern changes
Your doctor will ask you about the injury and how it happened during the evaluation. They may inquire about the severity of the blow and whether you fell unconscious or had memory loss due to it. You must inform your doctor about any prior concussions you have already had.
A neurological examination, which includes tests for balance, coordination, vision, hearing, and reflexes, will most likely be performed by your doctor.
Doctors can view detailed images of the skull and brain using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computed tomography (CT) scans. As previously stated, MRI and CT scan results are frequently shared in concussion patients, so these tests are rarely helpful in diagnosing the injury.
If the neurological examination reveals problems, such as vision problems, your doctor will order visualized scans. In addition, MRI and CT scan help guide treatment if your condition worsens over time.
Neuropsychological testing aids in determining the impacts of concussion on mental abilities. This evaluation can be performed using computerized tests or in person with a neuropsychologist.
The assessment provides valuable information on a variety of mental functions, including short and long memory, attention and concentration, problem-solving, and way of speaking.
Evaluation of Balance
After a concussion, many athletes are unstable for several days. Doctors use balance testing to determine whether the portion of the brain that controls movement is operating.
Your doctor may use a variety of balance tests, as well as more advanced force plate technology. Force plates measure the forces generated by stepping, running, jumping, and other actions. They are usually rectangle-shaped and can be used as a standalone device or in machines similar to exercise equipment, such as cardio machines or stair stepper motors.
Treatment for Concussions in Sports
Relative rest is essential for concussion recovery. This includes not only physical rest but also mental rest. Reading, computer work, video games, and even television should be limited until all symptoms have subsided.
Previous concussion treatment was “cocoon treatment,” which completely removed the athlete from activity. However, this approach has been found to be below the optimum level.
Most people are now beginning on subthreshold aerobic exercises — supervised exercises that do not worsen symptoms — within 2 to 3 days, with a gradual increase in intensity as tolerated, as long as symptoms do not worsen. Walking, jogging, and riding a stationary bike are subthreshold aerobic exercises. According to clinical research, active rehabilitation can speed up recovery and enhance mental well-being. The key is to allow symptoms to guide treatment.
Although proper equipment is essential for injury prevention, there isn’t any such thing as a concussion-proof helmet or mouthguard. As a result, young athletes must be trained in safe sports techniques, such as not using the top of the helmet to perform a tackle in football and following game rules.
Many athletes will downplay their signs to return to the game. Understanding the long-term effects of repeated concussions is an essential component of prevention. Several medical and sports organizations have recently developed concussion awareness programs for athletes, coaches, and parents. These educational programs are critical in recognizing concussions and preventing repeat injuries.