We hear all kinds of things from our clients, coaches, trainers, the public and other healthcare practitioners when talking about concussions and concussion management. Because new research is coming out so quickly on concussion, there have been many changes and advancements in recent years in how concussions should best be managed and treated. At the Balance + Concussion Center, we feel that our job is to educate as much as we can to change the concussion conversation and get us all on the same page. The quotes below are actual documented statements we have heard from clients, parents, trainers and coaches in the past year, along with our response of how we can educate the public to change to conversation.
Staying in the Game
“I just got my bell rung a little bit and I kept playing.”
“I knew something wasn’t right after I crashed into the other player but I stayed in for the rest of the game which was about another half hour.”
As soon as a concussion is suspected, an athlete should be removed from play, or an individual should stop doing whatever activity it was in which they were participating. It is better to miss one practice, one game, or even one day at work if it means protecting your brain. When a concussion occurs, there is a huge burst of nerve cells (neurons) in the brain firing all at once. This happens within seconds to minutes after you “got your bell rung.” Then there is a huge crash in energy available to the brain, which can take days to weeks to months to recover. Should you sustain a second concussive force to the brain while it is recovering, you risk a prolonged recovery at best, and severe complications such as Secondary Impact Syndrome at worst. Secondary Impact Syndrome occurs anytime an individual suffers from a second concussion before their first concussion has fully healed. This second trauma to the brain can result in swelling of the brain, potentially leading to respiratory failure and even death.
Duration of Symptoms and Post-Concussion Syndrome
“I’ve been having blurred vision and getting tired with school, but my concussion was 4 months ago so it can’t be that.”
“”My friends told me my concussion symptoms couldn’t have lasted this long.”
Most people with concussion have full symptom recovery within 7-10 days of the injury. However, 30% or more of individuals who sustain a concussion do not recover in this time frame. When symptoms officially last more than 30 days, it is termed Post-Concussion Syndrome or Prolonged Concussion Symptoms - PCS for short. PCS can occur for a variety of reasons including inflammatory and metabolic changes in the brain, blood flow and circulatory disruption in the brain, oculomotor (eye) and vestibular (inner ear) dysfunction resulting from the concussion, neck injury associated with concussion, and even psychological trauma following the injury.
If you have a concussion, it is important to begin working with a concussion specialist from the beginning to help progress you through your recovery. Early intervention and ensuring proper steps are being taken through the healing process can help reduce the risk of developing PCS. But, even people with PCS can get better! A concussion specialist will be able to determine the cause(s) of these prolonged symptoms and work on treatments to get you back on track. At the Balance + Concussion Center, we have seen individuals 2 or more years out from their initial concussion injury make huge improvements and return to their normal activities.
We want to continue the concussion conversation with you! Contact us any time with your thoughts and questions!