Frequently Asked Questions About Concussions

What You Need to Know About Concussions in Sports

Concussions and concussion-related disorders pose a serious risk to all types of athletes, from amateurs to professionals. They are linked to short and long-term physical, emotional, and mental injuries. The issues that many athletes face today could have been prevented if certain necessary steps were taken following their injury, but many were, unfortunately, failed and now live with the consequences of this failure. Continue reading to learn more about concussions in sports.

What Should You Do Directly Following a Concussion?

Most people are able to fully recover from a concussion, but even if it seems your blow to the head was minor, one of the first steps you should take is a visit to your doctor. It is possible you can recover on your own, but why would you want to roll the dice on your health? Seeing a doctor can assuage any concerns you might have about your health and the nature of your injury. A doctor will also be able to advise you on what you should avoid during your recovery period to prevent any long-term damage.

And rest.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), rest is one of the most vital steps a person can take in the aftermath of a concussion. If you ignore your symptoms and try to immediately resume your usual routine, you could worsen your symptoms. Healing takes time.

Heed the advice of your health care professional and gradually return to your daily activities when your symptoms reduce significantly. If your symptoms return after you resume your normal activities, or you experience new symptoms, this is likely a sign you are pushing yourself too hard. Allow yourself more time to fully recover and, if you begin to feel better, ask your doctor if it is advisable for you to return to your routine.

How Do You Rest After a Concussion?

In addition to visiting your doctor and following all recommendations, there are some general tips that are often conducive toward a better recovery. This includes:

  • Get plenty of sleep at night, and make time for rest during the day.
  • Avoid physically demanding activities, such as working out or heavy housecleaning.
  • Avoid contact sports that might cause another concussion.
  • Your ability to react might become slower in the aftermath of your concussion, so ask your physician when it is safe to drive a car, ride a bike, or operate heavy equipment.
  • Ask your physician when you can expect to return to work.
  • Consider reviewing your schedule with your employer to accommodate your medical needs.
  • Only take drugs that were approved by your physician.
  • Do not drink any alcoholic beverages until your physician says it is safe to do so. Alcohol can potentially slow your recovery and put you at risk for further injury.
  • You might have a difficult time focusing, so avoid multitasking, especially when it comes to tasks that require your full attention.
  • If you are in the midst of making important decisions, consult your family members or trusted friends first.
  • Avoid extensive use of computers or video games while in the process of recovery.

What Do I Do If My Child Has a Concussion?

If your child has sustained a concussion, make sure you take him or her to the doctor as soon as possible. You can also help aid the process of recovery by following these helpful tips:

  • Allow your child to get plenty of rest. Do not encourage late nights and do not allow sleepovers.
  • Make sure your child avoids high-risk activities, such as sports, roller coasters, or other activities that might jeopardize his or her safety and risk another concussion.
  • Give your child drugs that are approved by a pediatrician or the family doctor.
  • Share information about your child’s concussion with teachers, counselors, babysitters, coaches, and other individuals who interact with your child to create awareness of his or her condition and to help them understand how to meet your child’s needs.

What Tests Are Done to Diagnose Concussion?

Concussions do not necessarily leave a mark. You might feel completely fine immediately afterward, but without a visit to your doctor, you cannot be certain. A doctor will be able to conduct tests to check for any damage, determine the severity of the injury, and determine the best course of action for treatment. Some tests that are commonly performed include:

  • Neurological Test: Your doctor might order a neurological exam in the ER in order to assess your motor and sensory skills, the functioning of your cranial nerves, hearing and speech, vision, coordination and balance, mental status, mood changes and behavior, and other abilities.
  • CT Scan: A CT scan is a special computerized x-ray, which provides images of the brain. It is often used if a physician suspects brain bleeding or swelling.
  • MRI Scan: This test provides detailed images of the brain through the use of magnetic energy instead of radiation.

Even if the MRI or CT scans come up negative, it does not mean your brain did not sustain any damage. It simply means it is not visible on the scans.

What is Post-Concussion Syndrome?

A “concussion” is the term used to describe an injury that occurs when a trauma victim’s brain hits the inside of the skull with enough force to cause a disruption in normal brain activity. These injuries are common among athletes who participate in contact sports such as football, soccer, and martial arts. With proper treatment, the symptoms of a concussion typically clear up in a matter of weeks. However, in some cases complications can occur, leading to the development of the more serious post-concussion syndrome (PCS).

The symptoms of PCS mirror the symptoms of a concussion, however, can last for months or even years after the initial injury took place. Furthermore, each individual may experience the condition differently, with specific symptoms depending on the severity of an injury as well as the parts of the brain that were damaged. The condition can lead to a drastic reduction in the victim’s day-to-day enjoyment of life.

Common physical and cognitive symptoms of PCS can include:

  • Constant fatigue or tiredness despite seemingly adequate rest
  • Trouble with memory recall, concentration, and focus
  • Mood swings and behavioral changes such as anxiety and depression
  • Physical pains including persistent headaches and migraines
  • Reduction or loss of sensory perception

Treatments for PCS typically focus on easing symptoms. For example, a physician might prescribe pain medications for migraines or refer patients to specialists for the treatment of psychological conditions. While there is disagreement within the medical community as to the exact causes of PCS, risk factors can include age as well as previous head trauma. Due to the varying nature of symptoms, it is critical for victims to seek ongoing medical care and monitor their condition closely with the appropriate medical professionals.

What is Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy?

Repeated head trauma throughout many years is the likely cause of CTE. The condition is commonly found in the brains of people who played contact sports, including football.

During the first stage, symptoms do not appear to be substantial – such as headaches and mild disorientation. However, as the condition progresses, CTE can cause memory loss, poor judgment, emotional instability, erratic behavior, vertigo, tremors, dementia, depression, substance abuse, and suicidal thoughts.

Unfortunately, several former NFL players who have taken their own lives were discovered to be suffering from CTE prior to their untimely deaths. It is becoming much clearer that the developing brain is more susceptible to concussion, resulting in a delayed recovery time that can have an immense, negative health impacts down the road.

Serving Injured Victims Nationwide

If you or a loved one has suffered a sports-related concussion, or currently suffering from the aftermath of a head injury, do not hesitate to contact Shrader & Associates L.L.P. Our sports injury attorneys have been helping the injured for more than a decade and have won millions of dollars for clients in past settlements and verdicts. We know that you are likely to have numerous questions; we are here to help.

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