Concussions are an extremely common injury, with almost 4 million concussions reported in the U.S. alone every year.
A concussion is considered a mild traumatic brain injury (TBI), and all ages, from infancy to the elderly, are vulnerable to the effects of a concussion. TBIs are typically caused by a bump, blow, or jolt, but sports are specifically the largest contributor to concussions.
Mild traumatic brain injuries can still be serious, and the term “mild” generally means that there is a limit to an inconceivably small risk of death related to the injury. However, the long-lasting impact of a concussion can include effects on memory, judgment, reflexes, speech, balance, and muscle coordination.
At the point of impact, a concussion can cause a temporary moment of amnesia or loss of consciousness.
The brain is the control center for the whole body, so any injury is not to be taken lightly and should be closely monitored over the course of recovery. Brain-related injuries can have a lasting impact across the whole body, including areas that were not directly impacted by the accident.
Seeing a Tucker concussion specialist at Optimum Health can help you better understand the lasting effects a minor TBI created and build a course of action on how to tackle the effects accordingly.
Take control of your health with the resources available from our local team of professionals. To speak with a trusted member of our team and schedule a neurological evaluation for a concussion, contact us online or call (404) 793-1600.
Getting Top-Quality Concussions Treatment
Even though concussions are a common injury, managing the recovery process is unique to everyone because of the complex nature of brain injuries. The first step is to evaluate the extent of the sufferer’s concussion and determine if they could need further testing for more serious head injuries.
Optimum Health offers diagnostic neurology services to help you gain insights about the impact of your accident. Treating a concussion can be difficult for people who have a hard time resting, as that’s the best medicine for the first phase of recovery.
There are two stages of recovery in the process of healing from a concussion before a concussed person can say that they are fully healed, and both come with benchmarks that assess the progress of one’s condition.
Acute Symptomatic Phase
This is the first stage of recovery and accounts for the time right after diagnosis to the time the symptoms begin to subside. Typically, the acute symptomatic phase of concussion recovery takes roughly a week or more.
Everyone is different. So many people report their symptoms dulling after just days, whereas others experience much longer recovery.
Between 10-20% of individuals who have suffered a concussion reported prolonged symptoms, with the acute symptomatic phase lasting weeks, months, or even years.
A person in the acute symptomatic phase should not be doing any activity that requires brain processes affected by the injury, including working, doing exercise, or partaking in any strenuous activities. Even excess light can be damaging.
The sooner the body has the opportunity to rest, the sooner a person can move on! Rejecting the brain’s plea to rest and relax can lead to longer symptomatic phases or the development of further injury.
The recovery phase begins when the inhibiting symptoms like dizziness, headaches, and nausea fade away. Many people also report a sense of clarity that returns and motivates the rest of the recovery process.
In the recovery phase, a person can slowly try integrating activities like watching tv or reading back into their daily routine to assess how their brain reacts to returning to that level of stimuli.
After weeks of being symptomatic, if no progress is in sight and persistent symptoms linger, it may be in your best interest to speak with a care provider about running more diagnostic tests to assess for further injuries.
How to Know if You Have a Concussion?
Any bump on the head can leave you wondering about a concussion, but how are you really supposed to know if you’ve suffered a TBI? Because traumatic brain injuries can feel different for everyone, having an experienced professional diagnose your concussion is always the best option.
Although many people will report a persistent feeling of ‘something being off,’ and this is a big indicator for medical professionals that a person could be suffering from a concussion.
Never try to self-diagnose a concussion, especially if you’ve never had one before, because many types of TBIs exhibit many of the same symptoms, but a care provider knows what to look for when it comes to pinpointing the differences. A concussion also affects your judgment and memory, so if you are concussed, trying to self-diagnose can be extremely dangerous.
If you experience a combination of the following signs and symptoms of a concussion after a bump, blow, or jolt to the head, seek diagnostic neurology services to determine if you are suffering from a TBI:
- Lack of coordination
- Slurred speech or changes in speech patterns
- Ringing in the ears
- Feeling tired or fatigued
- Trouble concentrating
- Feeling like something is ‘off’
How Are Concussions Diagnosed?
A concussion will not appear on any imaging scans in most cases, so medical professionals have gotten creative when analyzing a person for signs of a concussion. A neurological examiner will likely conduct a series of cognizance tests that assess aspects of the brain’s functions.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that you won’t be put through imaging tests, though, as an MRI or CT scan can be crucial in diagnosing a more serious brain injury like brain bleeding. Generally speaking, a concussion test can be done without much equipment at all.
During your concussion test, the neurological examiner may evaluate your:
- Ability to pay attention
- Facial expressions
- Response times
Who Is at the Highest Risk for a Concussion?
Everyone of all ages is vulnerable to sustaining a concussion, but certain groups are more likely to endure the injury because of their vulnerability or exposure to risk.
Children under four and the elderly are two age groups that experience a heightened risk of experiencing a concussion due to their vulnerability and sensitive skulls. Concussions in children become more common when the child participates in athletics. In fact, concussions in adolescents ages 15-19 have skyrocketed.
Concussions are also commonly sustained injuries after a slip and fall or auto accident, typically caused by being violently jerked or sudden impact. Military personnel, victims of abuse, and athletes are also at a higher risk for concussions due to their unique situations.
People who have previously faced a concussion experience a unique risk, as past injury makes you more susceptible to enduring it again. A person who had a previous concussion is actually 3-5x more likely to have it happen again.
Student-Athletes and Concussions
Concussions are extremely common in student-athletes, and adolescents will need proper guidance and patience when recovering from this type of injury. A concussion will severely impact the regularity of their schedule, so it is important to help your child transition to a more relaxed schedule in an effort to calm feelings of panic or anxiety around schoolwork.
This transition can be difficult because a student will need to avoid things like cell phones, televisions, gaming sets, loud music, music through headphones, reading, or doing homework while recovering, which leaves them very little to stay occupied with. Fresh air and short walks can be great at relieving some tension from boredom.
When the student is passing neurological tests that place them in the recovery phase of their healing journey, it is important for the parent to work with the school to provide the student-athlete with accommodations that make returning to school less overwhelming.
Examples of this include extra time on homework, the ability to audio-record lectures, extra breaks in class, copying notes, and the ability to leave the classroom early to avoid crowded hallways.
Preventing a Concussion
While it is impossible to fully eliminate the risk of a concussion, especially in athletes and certain age groups, there are measures one can take to lower the risk of possible injury, such as the following:
- Always wear your seatbelt
- Helmets are important not just for cyclists and skateboarders but also horse-back riders, skiers, and those in any contact sport
- Invest in safety gates on stairs for young children
- Use hand-railings
- Strategically place flashlights around the home so you are never walking in the dark
- Install safety guards on windows
Neurology Services at Optimum Health Rehabilitation Center in Tucker
Concussions are a scary injury, especially during the acute symptomatic phase, where everything feels discombobulated. Thankfully, you don’t have to manage the discomfort alone, and a team of wellness specialists is standing by with comforting strategies and methods of care.
Gain a skilled team of specialists who are committed to your concussion treatment when you come to Optimum Health. We will perform diagnostic tests that offer insight into your mental status, motor functions, sensory functions, coordination, and much more.
After testing is completed, we’ll put together an action plan to further treat your related nerve issues. Our staff is passionate about providing aid to each patient that we see and is dedicated to their long-term wellness.
To get in touch with a trusted member of our team, contact us online or call (404) 793-1600.