Concussions sustained while participating in sports, especially in contact sports, has been a frequent topic for news media outlets in recent years. This occurred after it was discovered that many former professional football players were suffering from devastating effects of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, which occurs after repeated concussions inflicted.
Thankfully, many coaches and medical assistants associated with sports teams have been trained to recognize symptoms of a mild concussion. New rules are also in place in sports leagues open to younger players to prevent repeated head injuries. Many sports organizations that have oversight over various sports have issued rules that say no athlete who suffers a concussion can be allowed back onto the field of play unless first cleared by a qualified neurologist or physician.
Chronic traumatic encephalopathy is a degenerative disorder that develops from repeated concussions. It is caused by Tau protein clumps that form in the brain and spread over time, killing brain cells as it spreads. As such, parents or guardians, coaches, and medical staff should be on the lookout for symptoms of concussions, mild, modest, or severe.
The primary symptoms of a concussion include headache, dizziness, changes in vision, sensitivity to light, slow reaction times with any mental activity (including counting, holding a conversation, and anything that involves memory).
In addition, concussions can show up as confusion or disorientation, slurred speech and nausea or vomiting. Ringing in the ears is common and, among children, uncharacteristic crying and mood swings can occur. Fatigue is also a potential symptom.
Public awareness concerning chronic traumatic encephalopathy has risen in recent years starting, tragically with numerous suicides and cognitive disorders among retired professional football players. However important such awareness is, the public is often fed erroneous information about concussions through popular entertainment. Adventure movies are filled with fights that end with someone (or many people) “knocked out.” Yet there is no follow-through that warns the public that being “knocked out,” in a movie fistfight has zero accountability. Knocking someone out in the movies is considered normal, common, and unimportant. This should not be the case in real life.
Severe or repeated concussions can cause permanent brain damage, which is why even mild concussions must be taken very seriously. Multiple concussions can result in a chronic problem.
For mild to moderate concussions, the symptoms will likely fade away in seven to 10 days. In the meantime, the counter anti-inflammatory, such as ibuprofen and naproxen can help. Anyone recovering from a concussion should also reduce the time spent watching television, video games, or computer screens and get plenty of rest.
The most important tip involving concussions, however, is to avoid strenuous activities, especially one that could result in another blow to the head. Never participate in sports until the concussion has fully healed and the return to sports is cleared by your doctor.