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Football, Tailgates, & Concussions.

As summer is coming to and end, and football season is approaching. There are some things we need to be aware of - and I’m not talking about what food and beer to bring to the tailgate. I’m talking about Concussions. Although we've all probably seen Will Smith's Concussion, let's dive a little deeper so we can get a better understanding. What are they? How do they happen? And what do you need to know?

What are they?

According to the CDC, a concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury—or TBI—caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or by a hit to the body that causes the head and brain to move rapidly back and forth. This trauma can cause the brain to bounce in the skull resulting in a chemical change. This change can cause stretching and swelling which can result in damaged neurons and cells in the brain.

How do they happen?

Now imagine this.. You’re standing in the middle of the football field, you look up and someone is coming at you running full speed weighing 250 pounds, and all you have protecting your skull is 2.5 inches of plastic. This might feel similar to getting hit by a truck - For your brain, maybe getting hit by two trucks. Although you’re wearing a helmet, as you get hit and knocked to the ground your brain is shaking inside your skull. This ‘shaking’ or ‘rattling’ can cause bruise like injuries to the brain itself resulting in a concussion. Not great…

What do you need to know?

After a blow to the head signs and symptoms of a concussion might not show up right away, which is why some just pass it off as an acute injury and not go to the doctor. Some medical providers even categorize concussions as a “mild” injury, here at ProActive Physical Therapy we disagree. A concussion is always serious and you need to be aware of the signs and symptoms.

Some typical signs of a concussion immediately following the trauma includes:

  • Can’t recall events prior to or after a hit or fall.

  • Appears dazed or stunned.

  • Forgets an instruction, is confused about an assignment or position, or is unsure of the game, score, or opponent.

  • Moves clumsily.

  • Answers questions slowly.

  • Loses consciousness (even briefly).

  • Shows mood, behavior, or personality changes.

Some typical symptoms to be aware of following the event (days/weeks) include:

  • Headache or “pressure” in head.

  • Nausea or vomiting.

  • Balance problems or dizziness, or double or blurry vision.

  • Bothered by light or noise.

  • Feeling sluggish, hazy, foggy, or groggy.

  • Confusion, or concentration or memory problems.

  • Just not “feeling right,” or “feeling down”.

So what’s the big deal?

What’s scary about concussions is that we don’t really know the short term and long term effects.. There's no definitive research that currently shows exactly what happens after a concussion.

What we do know is that they have been linked to some pretty bad represcussions including:

  • Loss of Consciousness

  • Amnesia

  • Delayed verbal/motor response

  • headaches/ migraines

  • Changes in vision

  • Confusion or disorientation

  • Inability to focus

  • Nausea/ Vomiting

  • Disequilibrium

  • Mood swings

  • Dizziness/ Vertigo

  • Slurred speech

  • Excessive drowsiness or inability to sleep

These symptoms can be very serious and irreversible. It’s important that you get yourself screened for a concussion following a serious blow to the head. Most importantly wear a helmet if you’re engaging in any activity that has an increased risk for hitting your head. Love and take care of your brain, it’s the only one you’ve got.

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