Concussion is a potential threat in everyday life (e.g. motor vehicle accidents, slip and fall incidents, etc.). The risk of concussion is increased when we engage in sports, but we should not let the increased risk keep us from participating in activities to which we are drawn to participate. The answer lies in acknowledging the risk of concussion and taking appropriate precautions to help to prevent the possible residual effects of concussion before and if one occurs.
It is good to be aware of the possibility and risks associated with concussions, but let’s not let the pendulum swing too far in the other direction where we are unnecessarily fearful of the risk, where it robs us of participating in the things to which we are attracted. It is good that recent events in the National Football League (NFL) have brought the risk and effects of undiagnosed and untreated concussion into public awareness. It must also be recognized that the NFL represents a level of risk to its players that is not present to the average person. Just think of the hundreds of thousands of boys who played some level of football less than pro and who matured without the sorts of residual effects being described by some NFL players. The data does not exist, but one must suspect a similar comparison could be found, for example, between professional female soccer players and girls/women playing soccer at lesser levels of competition.
What can be done to mitigate the risk of concussion and allow us to lead full and active lives with relative confidence that we will be OK from a long-term perspective?
- We must recognize that many sports carry an increased risk for all sorts of injuries (e.g. broken bones, sprains, torn cartilage, dislocations, etc.).
- We can apply common sense precautions such as wearing and using the proper equipment for your sport help to decrease the risk of injury, including concussion.
- Consider obtaining a pre-concussion screening. Baseline testing before a concussion occurs allows for a comparison with the individual’s pre-concussion functioning as a guide to judge when it is appropriate to return to various levels of activity.
Educate yourself about the signs and symptoms of concussion.
If you follow these steps, the probability of suffering any long-term negative effects of a concussion will be greatly reduced.
- There are on-line resources to read (e.g. https://sadarpsych.com/services/concussion-screening/)
- View (e.g. YouTube videos on symptoms of concussions).
- Seek medical attention if the initial symptoms are significant (e.g. loss of consciousness, vomiting, memory loss, etc.) or if symptoms worsen with the passage of time. A medical evaluation will help to rule out any structural damage.
Even if the medical tests are negative (i.e. CT scan, MRI) it is possible that damage not visible to such technology has occurred such as the ripping or tearing of neurons. Consequently, if symptoms continue or become worse with time after overt structural damage has been ruled out, consider further evaluation (e.g. functional EEG evaluation). It will be important to see a provider who is familiar with concussions if/when the symptoms continue for more than three weeks. Your provider can develop a progressive exertion program (both mental and physical) together with symptoms to monitor so the exertion program can be stopped if/when symptoms return.
Visit our Concussion Screening Services page to know more about its benefits.
Give us a call if you want to know more. We will be more than happy to help you find the right treatment for your condition.