Sports & Concussions

Aug 22, 2022

By Barret Procyshyn

We are right on the cusp of sports seasons getting heating back up as the weather cools. Football season is in full swing and soon enough school sports and hockey season will be back on the family calendars. Last week when former all-star NFL quarterback Brett Farve commented he suffered from thousands of concussions it caught my attention. New Calgary Flames star John Huberdeau donating his brain to science and medical research is also interesting news. There is no doubt historically the sports world has done a dreadful job of identifying concussions in sports and then managing them appropriately. However, with increased attention on concussions, protocol for these head injuries has improved from the big leagues to the minors. It is now not acceptable to shake off a hit to the head and get back out there.

A concussion is a brain injury, caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head. It can also be a hit to the body causing the head and brain to move rapidly back and forth. The sudden impact or movement can cause the brain to bounce or twist within the skull, leading to chemical changes in the brain and sometimes stretching and damaging brain cells. Concussions are often classified as a "mild" brain injury because they are usually not life threatening, however they still are serious.

The signs and symptoms of a concussion can vary greatly. Not being able to recall events prior to or after the hit is a definite warning. Appearing dazed or stunned, forgetting roles, an assignment or position or the score of the game or opponent are all things to watch. Movements should also be monitored. Clumsy actions, loss of consciousness for even a second and mood changes are all warning signs.

Specific symptoms of a concussion can also occur including headache or pressure in head, nausea or vomiting, balance problems or dizziness, or double or blurry vision. If a player is bothered by light or noise, feeling sluggish, hazy, foggy, or groggy these should be considered symptoms of a concussion. Confusion, or concentration or memory problems at any point are as well. The simple admission of just not "feeling right," or "feeling down" should never be pushed aside.

The warning signs and symptoms generally show up quickly after the injury occurs. However, you may not know how serious the injury is at first and some symptoms may not show up for hours or days. There are also instances when an injury occurs without anyone realizes it happened.

Players, coaches and officials are now being better trained to watch for head injuries. If your team has a trainer, they will help make the determination if medical attention is necessary. If a child is not assessed medical attention should be a priority. As a parent, you should continue to monitor for signs of concussion right after the injury and a few days after. A physician visit at an emergency department is recommended if signs and symptoms get worse.

While most people recover 100% from a concussion there can be long term effects, especially if concussions become recurrent. Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is a progressive and fatal brain disease associated with repeated traumatic brain injuries, including concussions and repeated blows to the head. It is also associated with the development of dementia and perhaps other mood disorders. We still have a lot to learn when it comes to CTE.

Brett Favre, once the king of "getting back out there" has now become an advocate for head injury awareness. He is lobbying for a ban on youth tackle football to protect young brains. He might know what he was talking about, as he was sacked into the turf over 500 times in NFL regular season games alone. I will leave the tackling and contact rules in youth sports to the experts; however, you do need to watch out for them.

The information in this article is intended as a helpful guide only. It is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional advice. If you have any questions about your medications and what is right for you see your doctor, pharmacist, or other health care professional.


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