Suffering from a concussion?

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A concussion is a traumatic brain injury that alters the way your brain functions. Effects are usually temporary, but can include problems with headache, concentration, memory, judgment, balance and coordination.

 

Concussions are common, particularly if you play a contact sport, such as rugby. But every concussion injures your brain to some extent. This injury needs time and rest to heal properly. Luckily, most concussive traumatic brain injuries are mild, and people usually recover fully.

Signs and symptoms:

The signs and symptoms of a concussion can be subtle and may not be immediately apparent. Symptoms can last for days, weeks or even longer.

The most common symptoms after a concussive traumatic brain injury are headache, amnesia and confusion. The amnesia, which may or may not be preceded by a loss of consciousness, almost always involves the loss of memory of the impact that caused the concussion.

Signs and symptoms of a concussion may include:

  • Headache or a feeling of pressure in the head
  • Temporary loss of consciousness
  • Confusion or feeling as if in a fog
  • Amnesia surrounding the traumatic event
  • Dizziness or "seeing stars"
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Slurred speech
  • Fatigue

Causes:

Your brain has the consistency of gelatin. It's cushioned from everyday jolts and bumps by the cerebrospinal fluid that it floats in, inside your skull. A violent blow to your head and neck or upper body can cause your brain to slide back and forth forcefully against the inner wall of your skull.

Risk factors:

  • Factors that may increase your risk of a concussion include:
  • Participating in a high risk sport, such as rugby, hockey, soccer or other contact sport; the risk is further increased if there's a lack of proper safety equipment and supervision
  • Being involved in a motor vehicle collision
  • Being a victim of physical abuse
  • Falling, especially in young children and older adults

Treatments and drugs:

  • Rest is the best way to allow your brain to recover from a concussion. This means avoiding general physical exertion as well as activities that require mental concentration.
  • Avoid other pain relievers such as aspirin, as there's a possibility these medications may increase the risk of bleeding.

Prevention:

The following tips may help you to prevent or minimize your risk of head injury:

  • Wear appropriate protective gear during sports and other recreational activities. 
  • Buckle your seat belt
  • Make your home safe. 
  • Protect your children. 
  • Use caution in and around swimming areas. 
  • Wear sensible shoes

If you have suffered from a concussion this injury needs time and rest to heal properly. Luckily, most concussive traumatic brain injuries are mild, and people usually recover fully.

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