With so many sports, the possibility of getting a concussion is a real concern, especially in contact sports. This has recently been brought into the lime light in particular with football and the various lawsuits brought against the NFL for the long lasting effects of concussions which were not handled properly.
So, what is a concussion? How is it recognized? How should it be treated?
According to the CDC, a concussion is a traumatic brain injury caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head. Basically, an individual is hit in the head, the skull and brain both accelerate, the skull comes to a stop first, and the brain which is suspended in fluid in your skull keeps accelerating and hits the skull, often bouncing back and hitting again on the opposite side of the skull (something referred to as a coup coutrecoup injury).
How do you recognize a concussion?
There are a number of typical symptoms which can be indicative of a concussion including blurred vision, dizziness, drowsiness, confusion, fatigue, headache, loss of consciousness, disorientation, memory problems, nausea, poor coordination, ringing of the ears, seeing stars, and more.
If a player takes a hit to the head and shows any of these symptoms after the hit, they should be pulled out of the game and evaluated by a medical profession after the game. More severe symptoms may indicate a need for immediate medical evaluation and care, particularly if the player is knocked unconscious for more than 30 seconds, has difficulty speaking after a hit to the head, seems confused, isn't moving well, or throws up, since these can be symptoms of even more serious brain injuries.
After a player has been diagnosed with a concussion... what then?
The evaluating doctor will advise on how long the player should stay out of the sports, but a player definitely shouldn't play as long as they are exhibiting symptoms, since the risk of long term neurological side effects from a concussion increases dramatically when a second concussion occurs before an initial concussion has healed fully.
Another thing to note is that a player who is advised to stay home and rest from work or school after a concussion should do just that—rest. Keep stimulation to a minimum. Don't read, do things on the computer, watch tv, don't even listen to music. Keep lights dim. Keep inputs muted. Students should not be doing homework or undertaking anything that might be mentally taxing, since this stresses an already injured and stressed brain. Adjults should not be working from home on mentally taxing problems for the same reason.
Getting a chiropractic adjustment can often help resolve post-concussion symptoms, since adjustments help take stress off the nervous system. In particular, the neck often requires adjustment since mild to moderate whip-lash can go hand in hand with concussions. Applied Kinesiology as a chiropractic technique is particularly suited to dealing with post-concussion symptoms, with additional tools not found in many techniques including cranial adjusting, injury recall, and specific sub-techniques which address neurological disorganization which can result from a traumatic brain injury like a concussion.