If you suspect you may have a concussion, getting immediate care should be your first priority. A concussion can lead to significant short-term problems in school, work, and sports because they often include persistent effects such as memory loss, depression, attention difficulties, or increased likelihood to get a worse concussion in the future.
Concussions occur when the brain is thrust against the skull very hard. This type of trauma typically happens when your head hits something hard. However, it can happen when another part of your body is hit or falls because the brain can still shake inside the hard skull. Wearing proper head protection helps to prevent concussions, but it does not completely eliminate the risk.
In 2011, the Utah state government passed a law requiring any athlete suspected of having a concussion be immediately removed from play. It also prevents the athlete from returning to play until they have been properly evaluated and cleared by a medical professional who regularly treats concussions and has received specific training on concussion management within the past three years. This law was enacted to help protect athletes against the serious and possible long-term effects of concussions.
Signs of a Concussion
If you hit your head, have suffered a significant blow, or have recently fallen hard, you should pay very close attention to how your mind and body are reacting. Here are some major signs or symptoms that you may have a concussion:
- Disorientation and confusion
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Ringing in your ears
- Vomiting or nausea
- Vision changes
- Memory loss
- Emotional outbursts
- Sleep disturbances
- Trouble paying attention
If you or someone you know is experiencing any of these symptoms, they may need immediate medical attention. Avoid using any medication other than Acetaminophen (Tylenol), and monitor the injured person to make sure symptoms aren’t worsening, in which case evaluation in an Emergency Room is strongly recommended.
The best way to manage a concussion is with rest – both physical rest (no running, sports, or exercise) and cognitive rest (no video gaming, TV or movies, loud music, social events, social media, or homework). It is wise to do this until you can be evaluated by a sports medicine doctor.
A certified sports injury doctor will perform a complete concussion evaluation and work with you to develop a recovery plan to help minimize the effect of your injury so you can get back to school, work, and sports/exercise as soon as possible.
To make an appointment to see one of our sports medicine specialists, call our sports medicine department now!