Clarifying the Concussion

By Jim Snyder

Concussion has become a hot topic both in and outside of the sporting world. The amount of ink and electrons devoted to this condition over the past few years has exploded, underlining the growing concern and frustration over this confusing injury.

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Simply put, a concussion is a brain injury. The word concuss is from Latin, meaning to “shake violently.” It can be caused by a blow to the head or body. It can happen after contact with another person, equipment or the ground, as in sports; or as a result of a fall or car accident. 
 
A concussion temporarily changes the way the brain normally works. It can range from mild to severe with the symptoms presenting differently for each event and person. A concussion can happen without a loss of consciousness.

You can’t see a concussion from the outside, but you may notice some of its symptoms right away. Other symptoms may show up hours or days later. The most common symptoms include: headaches, dizziness/nausea and mental fogginess. Other symptoms include:
  • Short-term memory problems
  • Problems with balance
  • Slow reaction time
  • Sensitivity to light or noise
  • Double or fuzzy vision
  • Mental sluggishness
  • Confusion
  • Vomiting
  • Difficulty with falling/ staying asleep
  • Irritability, sadness or moodiness

How do you recover?

The brain needs time to heal. Until you completely recover, you should not be playing sports nor doing high risk activities. Activities that require concentration and thinking – work, studying, using the computer, playing video games, etc – may cause concussion symptoms to reappear or get worse. You will need to adjust your daily routine accordingly and extra rest and sleep is also a must. 

During the healing period, you are more vulnerable to a repeat concussion. Repeat concussions can have serious and permanent consequences. Ideally, you should be treated in a hospital, clinic or office that specializes in concussion and brain injury. 
 
An initial assessment may include a physical exam, cognitive, balance and other types of testing. Follow up visits may happen on a weekly basis until symptoms have improved to the point where you are able to return back to normal daily activities. 
 
A recent change in Utah state law (2010) mandates that any athlete playing school-sponsored sports under the age of 19 must be cleared medically before returning back to play. 
 
The good news is concussion is a treatable condition with great prospects for recovery. According to latest research, early education and treatment can reduce lingering problems by as much as 75 percent. If you or a loved one has suffered a concussion and are still having symptoms, contact your healthcare provider and get back on the track of good health. ​