Do you know the signs of a concussion or what to do if you suspect someone might have one?
As we enter into the fall and a new season of sports begins, it is inevitable that we will see more injuries. While many injuries are minor, there is always the risk of the dreaded head injury, even in sports like beer league hockey. Concussions have a high incidence rate and do not appear to be slowing down, partly due to improved identification and assessment of the injury. We are seeing concussions in football, concussions in hockey, mild concussions and severe concussions. While coaches and athletes are better educated in recognizing signs of a concussion at the time of injury and the concussion symptoms that follow, many people still do not know what to look for and don’t know what to do if they suspect a head injury.
A concussion should be suspected whenever there is:
- A direct blow to the head, neck or body resulting in an impulsive force being transmitted to the brain that occurs in sports and exercise-related activities.
- An indirect force that could put impact on the brain, such as whiplash.
If a concussion is suspected, you should be looking out for these common symptoms:
- Physical: headache, a feeling of pressure in the head, neck pain, balance problems, nausea or vomiting, drowsiness, dizziness, blurred vision, sensitivity to light or noise, fatigue or low energy, or just generally not feeling right. When in doubt, make sure to get checked out!
- Emotional: feeling more emotional or irritable than usual, feeling of unexplained sadness, nervousness, or anxiety.
- Cognitive: difficulty concentrating or remembering, feeling slowed down, feeling like you are “in a fog.”
What to do if you suspect a concussion?
- When in doubt, get checked out!
Seek medical advice and an assessment by your doctor, a walk-in or Emergency department, depending on the severity of your symptoms.
- Speak to a clinician at Honsberger Physio+ to help understand what kind of plans can be made to help navigate recovery.
At Honsberger Physio+, we have clinicians that are skilled in concussion recovery and the Concussion Code of Conduct. Understanding your specific concussion symptoms helps understand how to tailor your treatment plan. All organizations are expected to have a return-to-play (RTP) plan in place, and we are here to help with that. There are elements of both rest and active components (both mental and physical) when it comes to return-to-learn (RTL), return-to-work (RTW) and RTP. We help connect with human resources, occupational health and safety teams, management, coaches, teachers, and/or parents to identify accommodations that are helpful during the concussion recovery process.
Why is it so important to have a proper concussion recovery plan in place?
- To get back to work and play, as quickly as possible, while doing everything you can to avoid another injury.
- A concussion can result in the following and more:
- A slower processing speed
- Lapse in short term memory
- Reduced/impaired concentration
- Slower to learn new concepts
- Shorter attention span
- More difficulty planning, organizing and completing assignments
- Slower reading
- Difficulty with reading comprehension
For many athletes and active individuals, concussion recovery can be concerning as you don’t know how much time you may miss. Seasons can be short and missing time is not a pleasant consequence. Concussion recovery varies depending on the severity of the injury and the severity of the concussion symptoms. In many cases, post-concussion symptoms resolve in days to weeks. However, some post-concussion symptoms take longer to resolve than others. Please remember that everyone’s symptoms and recovery will be different and it is important to seek a medical assessment first followed by a specialized assessment from clinicians trained in concussion rehab.
Note: In Ontario, Rowan’s Law requires all coaches and team trainers to review the government-approved Concussion Awareness Resources every year before serving in a sport organization or at a school. This Law has been put in place to help prevent, identify, and manage concussions. More information can be found at https://www.ontario.ca/page/rowans-law-concussion-safety.
If you have experienced a confirmed or suspected concussion, book an appointment to start your road to healing:
About the author: Daniel Snider is an Osteopathic Manual Practitioner and Certified Athletic Therapist. He has a passion for helping people not only heal, but also better themselves. Among other things, he specializes in Persistent Post-Concussion Symptoms and Sports Injuries. Learn more about Daniel Snider here.