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What Exactly Is a Concussion? Ocean DeBusschere Explains

Ocean DeBusschere, Certified Athletic Therapist, of Make Waves Therapy & Fitness is back to share with us what a concussion is exactly, along with other important bits of information. 

WHAT IS A CONCUSSION?

It is a form of brain injury that causes disturbances in brain function.

WHAT CAUSES A CONCUSSION?

It is caused by acceleration or deceleration of the brain which can happen following a blow to the head or even impact to somewhere else on the body You do not need a direct hit to the head to have a concussion, if you get hit or even fall on the hip, torso or shoulder hard enough the force could transfer to the head and cause a concussion.

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF A CONCUSSION?

Common symptoms include headache, ringing in the ears, blurred vision, and dizziness however a concussion impacts how the brain functions so other symptoms could be seen. On the SCAT5 (tool for evaluating concussions) there are a total of 22 symptoms that are looked at:

HOW DO I KNOW IF I HAVE A CONCUSSION?

They are hard to diagnose as symptoms may not show up immediately after being hit.The symptoms a patient experiences may also resolve before the brain is healed or recovered and that is why baseline tests are highly recommended and NEEDED prior to injury.

Baseline tests assist healthcare professionals to make a proper diagnosis and make safer return to play decisions. In summary if you have had significant impact and are feeling at least one symptom it is likely you have a concussion.

WHEN SHOULD I REMOVE MY ATHLETE(S) FROM THE GAME IF THEY ARE HIT?

Coaches, parents, and athletes should err on the side of caution, if there was a significant impact and at least once concussion symptom the athlete should be removed from play.

“When in doubt, sit them out!” (complete concussions)

WHEN SHOULD I GO SEE SOMEBODY?

You should go see someone if there was a mechanism and at least one concussion symptom occurring.

ARE THERE ANY RED FLAGS TO WATCH FOR AFTER INJURY?

The first 24-48hrs are critical as a more serious injury could occur like a bleed or swelling of the brain that requires immediate medical attention. You should monitor the patient following injury for a few hours to determine if their condition is worsening. If you see any of the following signs or symptoms they need to go to the hospital:

  • Seizure

  • Vomiting

  • Short-term memory deficits

  • Slurred speech

  • Numbness or weakness in the arms or legs

  • Decreased level of awareness/consciousness

  • If they are very drowsy or cannot be woken up

  • Unsteadiness standing or walking

  • Blood or fluid coming from eyes, ears, nose or mouth

  • Periauricular (around ears) or periorbital (around eyes) bruising

  • Tender points on the face

  • If there was drug or alcohol intoxication at the time of injury

  • If the mechanism of injury was dangerous/severe (eg. falling down stairs or off a building, hit by a car)

HOW DO I KNOW I AM READY TO RETURN TO SPORTS?

The process is different for each individual but to determine whether you are ready to return to work, learning or even play/sport there should be a step-by-step process that you go through with a licensed healthcare practitioner.

Some steps you go through should include:

  • Rest

  • Treatment and rehab that gradually increases mental activity

  • Treatment and rehab that gradually increases physical activity

If symptoms persist you may go through steps including:

  • Exercise therapy and therapy for the neck

  • Diet and nutrition

  • Visual rehabilitation

  • Vestibular rehabilitation

WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING PEOPLE SHOULD KNOW ABOUT CONCUSSIONS?

They should know that concussions are brain injuries and if people are not treated or rehabilitated properly there can be long term deficits. Concussions can affect an individuals neurological, physical and cognitive function and abilities, that is why baseline testing is so important so we know what people’s “normal” is and can get them back to that in all areas that are affected from their concussion injury.

To book baseline testing, directly message Make Waves Therapy via Instagram or Facebook. Alternatively you can email them at makewaves.therapyfitness@gmail.com

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