A concussion is a common head injury, sometimes known as a mild Traumatic Brain Injury (MTBI).
A concussion results after direct impact to the head, or an indirect hit to the body (such as the shoulders) but the force is transmitted to the head. Concussion results in changes to normal working functions such as memory or balance.
While concussion is a type of mild brain injury that changes normal behaviour such as memory or balance, a concussion cannot be seen on an X-ray or CT scan. Therefore a concussion is sometimes known as the ‘invisible injury’.
MORE COMMON THAN WE KNOW
• It is estimated that in Australia there is likely to be six to ten times higher than reported rates of concussion (Finch et al, 2013)
• Every year moreis a type of mild brain injury that changes normal behaviors such as memory or balance, a n Injury Australia, 2012)
IT DOES NOT HAVE TO BE A DIRECT BLOW TO THE HEAD
Concussion can be caused by a direct blow to the head or body that indirectly causes the head to move quickly in any direction. The damage to the brain during a concussion is caused by a sudden shifting of the brain inside the skull, causing the brain tissue to change shape and stretch. This shifting can cause the brain to knock against the hard bone of the skull causing bruising to the brain and damaging brain cells. This damage also causes chemical and metabolic changes within the brain cells, making it more difficult for cells to function and communicate.
THE BRAIN CONTROLS OUR MIND AND BODY
The brain is a complex organ, controlling all body and mind functions. Therefore a concussion can affect how a person feels at the time and in the future. Even what seems to be a mild bump to the head can be a potentially serious issue. Further, repeated impacts to the head over time have been shown to affect nerve tissues in the brain which increases risk in adverse changes in brain function, accelerating brain aging compared to healthy brains which have not been subject to repeated impacts.
What are the signs and symptoms of a concussion?
What should I do if I think I have a concussion?
Concussion symptoms differ with each person and with each injury, and they may not be noticeable for hours or days. Common symptoms include:
Difficulty remembering or paying attention
Balance problems or dizziness
Feeling sluggish, hazy, foggy or groggy
Feeling irritable, more emotional or "down"
Nausea or vomiting
Bothered by light or noise
Double or blurry vision
Slowed reaction time
Loss of consciousness
During recovery, exercising or activities that involve a lot of concentration (such as studying, working on the computer or playing video games) may cause concussion symptoms to reappear or get worse.
Ignoring your symptoms and trying to 'tough it out' often makes symptoms worse.
Tell your coach/trainer/teacher/parent if you thinkg you or one of your teammates may have a concussion. Don't let anyone pressure you into continuing to practice or play with a concussion.
GET CHECKED OUT
Only a health care professional can tell if you have a concussion and when it's OK to return to play/school/work. Sports have injury timeouts and player substitutions so that you can get checked out and the team can perform at its best. The sooner you get checked out, the sooner you may be able to safely return to play.
TAKE CARE OF YOUR BRAIN
A concussion can affect your ability to do work/schoolwork and other activities while the delicate combinations of chemicals within your brain cells re-balance.
Most athletes with a concussion get better and return to sports, but it is important to rest and give your brain time to heal. This process takes a lot of energy and is why it is important to conserve energy during recovery. A repeat concussion that occurs while your brain is till healing can cause long-term problems that may change your life forever.