When you or someone you know suffers a concussion, it’s natural to be worried. This guide to concussion protocol and treatment will put your mind at rest. TurningPoint Medical Group is the leading physical therapy clinic in Colorado Springs, CO for concussion injuries.
When it comes to head injuries, concussions are a serious reason for concern. Most cases of traumatic brain injuries are concussions. While they’re rarely life-threatening, they can cause serious symptoms that require medical treatment. At their worse, they can cause swelling and bleeding in the brain, and even be fatal.
It’s natural to be worried if someone you know or love suffers a concussion. This injury can be scary, and many kinds of people, such as children and athletes, are susceptible to it. Below, we’ll cover proper concussion protocol, so you can rest easy knowing you’re equipped to handle it.
What Is a Concussion?
A concussion is a mild type of traumatic brain injury (TBI). It can occur after an impact to your head, or after an injury that causes your head and brain to shake rapidly back and forth.
Fights, falls, playground injuries, and (driving) motor vehicle accidents MVA are just a few ways people can get a concussion. People who play impact sports like boxing, hockey and football are at high risk.
The symptoms vary depending on the severity of the injury. Beware not all cases of concussion result in a loss of consciousness.
Concussion Symptoms: How Can I Tell if I Have a Concussion?
In order to perform proper concussion protocol, it’s important to know the symptoms you may experience yourself:
- Memory loss or problems
- Blurred vision
- Sensitivity to light or noise
- ‘Brain fog’ / Just not feeling right
- Balance problems
These symptoms can begin immediately after the impact. They may also arise hours, days, weeks, or even months following the injury.
Signs Someone Else Has a Concussion
While it may be easy to recognize when you have a concussion, it can be difficult to recognize when someone else is having one.
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Check for the following signs:
- Balance issues
- Lack of coordination
- Problems with moving (walking, running)
- Abnormal eye movement
- Unequal pupil size
- Prolonged confusion
- Slurred or confused speech
- Inability to wake up (coma)
- Being more emotional
- Reduced anger management
If you see someone with these symptoms, get them emergency medical treatment (and call 911). The person may deny they are concussed. Do not let that prevent getting medical help for them.
What You Need to Know about Concussions
There are lots of misconceptions about concussions that can put you or your loved ones at risk. You need to know two facts:
1. They’re Not Blacking Out
Most people tend to think that losing consciousness is the key sign of a concussion. But in the majority of cases, the victim doesn’t lose concussions.
If someone has a major fall or injury, don’t assume they’re okay just because they’re conscious. Instead, look for the common symptoms of concussions.
2. Subsequent Concussions Are Generally Worse
If you’ve had a concussion and it hasn’t fully healed, any subsequent head trauma will take longer to heal. That means the symptoms associated with your injury will take longer to subside.
If you’ve experienced three or more concussions and didn’t receive the proper treatment, you’re more likely to suffer from long-term cognitive impairment. Thus, it’s best to (quit any impact sports and other risky activities) seek immediate therapy for post-concussive syndrome. It’s not about how many concussions you had it is about did the brain heal from it.
Proper Concussion Protocol
Concussions can be scary, but you can reduce the risk of damage and speed up recovery. Simply follow these concussion protocol tips:
1. Identify and Avoid Triggers
When it comes to concussions, you should avoid any activity that will produce or increase your symptoms. If you’re experiencing sensitivity to light, wear sunglasses and a hat. In case you’re nauseous, avoid any food or activities that will make that worse.
2. Get Some Rest
MYTH: “Go home, stay in a dark room, do nothing and wait till it gets better”
Actually, and perhaps surprising, ‘resting and doing nothing’ is the worst thing you can do! The newest CDC guidelines for concussion recommend a maximum rest of 1-3 days and then aerobic physical activity (controlled and supervised by a health professional) coupled with brain rehabilitation.
Sleep helps our brain recover, so it’s crucial to get extra sleep when recovering from a concussion. You’ll most likely feel exhausted after this injury, so daily activities will take more effort.
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If necessary, take short naps. However, try not to take too many because it may interfere with your sleeping habits.
3. Rest Your Brain and Body
Try not to overstimulate your brain. Doing so will only delay your recovery.
Using your brain to read, study, or learn new material can be difficult and make your condition worse. So, if you have work or studying to do, spread it out and remember to take breaks.
Things to Avoid Doing after a Concussion
Part of speedy recovery involves avoiding activities that can make your injury worse. Here are some things you should avoid as part of proper concussion protocol:
1. Excessive Physical Activity
Excessive physical activity may increase your risk of another injury. Plus, an increased heart rate can make your symptoms worse. Your body needs time to recover.
The good thing is that light activity like walking or riding a stationary bike can help you recover. Feel free to exercise, but don’t go overboard. Listen to your body and resume your workouts gradually.
2. Driving Too Soon and Taking Pain Relievers
As a precaution, you shouldn’t drive for at least 24 hours after a concussive injury. This is because your reaction time generally slows down, which increases the risk of an accident.
You should use caution when taking aspirin or anti-inflammatory medications. These can increase your risk of bleeding and also mask your symptoms.
When it comes to concussions, you should never underestimate them. This common brain injury can disrupt your mental functions. If left untreated, it can lead to long-term consequences. People with untreated concussions can suffer from headaches and fatigue for years after the injury.
Concussions can be scary, especially when they happen to you or a loved one. Following proper concussion protocol can save your life. These tips and best practices will help you handle the situation when it arises, and speed up recovery. Contact our physical therapy concussion clinic if you’re in need of a concussion evaluation or have more questions about concussion protocol.