No, no, no, I am NOT saying "Don't play sports!" By all means exercise is a huge part of maintaining your physical and mental health (more on that another day). What I want you to gather from this discussion, is with a concussion, how important it is to take a break from your sport and rest to heal so that you can go back and play again later! Oh, and so you can go about the rest of your life too - like school, hobbies, etc.
So, the facts please..... What is it? Who gets it? How do I know I have it? What do I do about it? And what if I ignore it?
What is a concussion?
You probably know some of this.... It is an injury to your brain, caused by a blow to or jolting of the head. Every one is serious. And no, you don't have to have been knocked out to have one.
Who gets 'em?
Anyone can get them during practices or games or other recreational activities. They tend to occur more often in males, although females seem more likely than to get them with the same activities. Football and ice hockey have the highest rates of concussions in high school sports, followed by soccer, basketball, field hockey, wrestling and other sports. Often the risk of concussion depends on what position you play.
How do I know I have a concussion?
Symptoms that occur immediately can include:
- headache or pressure in the head
- nausea or vomiting
- balance problems or dizziness
- double or blurry vision
- bothered by light or noise
- feeling sluggish, hazy, groggy
- having a hard time paying attention
- having memory problems
- being confused
- continuation of the body symptoms listed above
- emotional symptoms such as being irritable, feeling depressed or anxious, being more emotional in general, even some personality changes
- thinking problems such as having a hard time concentrating, having a hard time learning, feeling confused, having memory problem
So, I banged my head. Now what do I do?
OK, so in reality, you would be reading this way after you got that knock to the noggin.... But the key things to know here are:
- TELL YOUR COACH AND TELL YOUR PARENTS!
- You need to get out of the game... even if you feel fine.... Kids may get fewer symptoms than adults with a concussion. Fewer symptoms (or no immediate symptoms) does not mean you definitely do not have a concussion.
- You need to get checked out by a doctor.
- If you find out that you do have a concussion, you need to STAY OUT OF PRACTICE AND GAMES UNTIL YOU ARE BETTER (your doctor tells that when that is, not your friends, your teammates, your parents, your coach or others....you get the idea)
- Things like studying, driving, working on a computer, playing video games, or exercising may cause these symptoms to come back or get worse. Be sure to tell your parents, coach, doctor if they do.
"I am tough - I am fine - it's no big deal - my team needs me." AKA "What happens if I ignore it?"
This is not a joke. The risk of getting a second concussion shortly after a first one, before healing occurs, can be dangerous. Like deadly. Yes, you can be really sick and even die with something called "Second Impact Syndrome". Even without that awful outcome, you may never be able to play sports again. What? Retiring form sports at the ripe old age of 15? Yep, that's what I'm talkin' about. Not really worth it, is it? Especially since all you have to do is follow your doctor's directions and REST AND HEAL! Kids usually have a full recovery from concussions if they are treated properly and allowed to heal. So that is the good news!
There is a ton of great info out there. Here is a great link to the CDC where a bunch of this information is from: Heads Up Concussion
So, what about you? Ever had a concussion? Ever had a friend with one? Did you feel pressured to get back out there and play? Click on the comments and let's get the conversation started!