Think of a Concussion as a Brain Injury
We hear so much about concussions that I wonder if we are fully aware of what they really are. According to the Brain Injury
Association, every 15 seconds someone in the U.S. sustains a traumatic brain injury, half of them from vehicle accidents.
Any sports fan can name several current or recent athletes who have suffered multiple concussions, yet continued to play. At the moment, the person making that decision is hockey star Eric Lindros. Personally, I think continuing such a tough contact sport after a series of concussions is foolhardy. Perhaps we should call concussions what they really are – brain injuries.
A brain injury may be evident immediately because of loss of consciousness and other pronounced symptoms, but on the other hand, it may be more subtle, with no loss of consciousness and vague symptoms. The symptoms may show up right away or as much as several weeks later. A CT scan may show the damage, but not always.
Recovery is different for every injury and every person, but it’s generally slower in older people and anyone who has had previous concussions. Symptoms may abate quickly, or days, weeks, even months after the injury.
When you have a brain injury, you should tell the doctor what medications you are taking. (Of course you’re seeing the doctor ASAP.) This is particularly important if you’re on warfarin (Coumadin) which is a blood thinner, but you should also divulge any prescription, over-the-counter or street drug, legal or illegal, and natural supplements. They can affect both your early reaction to the injury and your recovery.
If the doctor gives you the okay, you can take acetaminophen for the inevitable headaches, but don’t take anything without his approval.
Symptoms vary, but may include: – continued headaches – they’re really awful – confusion, agitation – a problem concentrating or figuring things out – feeling unusually tired, listless – lightheadedness, dizziness – moodiness – change in libido – sleep problems – sensitivity to sound or light – ringing in the ears – blurred or double vision – impaired judgement, impulsive behavior
Right after the injury you should be taken to the E.R. if you have convulsions or seizures, won’t wake up, have slurred speech, confusion, or agitation, or if one pupil is larger than the other.
You should also be alert for signs of a blood clot, which include worsening headaches, weakness, numbness, clumsiness, or repeated vomiting. If you have these symptoms, don’t hesitate – see the doctor immediately.
The main thing to remember after a brain injury is to take it slow and be kind to yourself. You may think you’re fine, but then suddenly have recurring symptoms. If you think of it as a brain injury, you’re more likely to realize this is a serious injury which takes a long time to heal.
Even after you feel like you’re totally back to normal you must take extra care not to have another concussion because you will be more prone to them. Three times the risk after one concussion, eight times the risk after the second.
If you’ve had a brain injury from sports, whiplash, a fall, or any other cause, take these sensible measures. Get plenty of sleep and rest, get back to normal activities very slowly and cautiously, stay away from contact sports for a while, don’t drink alcohol, drive, ride a bike, or work until the doctor says it’s okay, and take only medicines he has approved.
You only have one brain; use it wisely. After all, you certainly don’t want to endure those headaches again, do you?
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by my ip