RVNA Today: What you need to know about concussions

With the return to school and the start of the fall sports season, concussions once again become a concern for students. A concussion is a mild traumatic brain injury, but the risk of suffering from one isn’t limited to athletes. Concussions are caused by a mild blow or jolt to the head or body that causes the brain to shake. While they are a common type of sports injury, they can also be caused by a fall, a car accident or being violently shaken. Although a concussion might not be life threatening, it can still be serious and it’s important to recognize the symptoms. They can include headache or neck pain, nausea, dizziness, balance and vision problems, sensitivity to light or sound, sleep problems, difficulty thinking, ear ringing or tiredness. There can be emotional issues as well, and crying for no reason can also be a sign. If there are more serious symptoms such as seizures, weakness in limbs, slurred speech or confusion, you should call 911 or seek medical help immediately. Symptoms of a concussion may not start right away and can occur days or weeks after the actual injury. A concussion is diagnosed with a careful exam to assess neurological impacts. A CT scan or MRI might be necessary. If a concussion is suspected, a child playing sports should not return to the game until evaluated. Most people fully recover from a concussion, but it can take time. Rest is very important and a set protocol for recovery must be followed. Minimizing activity, both physical and mental, is necessary to heal and prevent another concussion before the first one has been fully treated.