Some updated facts about concussions

A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury caused by a hit, blow, or jolt to the head (or body) that causes the brain to move rapidly within the skull. This rapid movement of the brain causes stretching and damage to brain cells. It’s similar to shaking an egg; the contents are still there, but the form changes.

During the initial 5-7 days following a concussion, your brain becomes energy and oxygen deprived. This means the amount of glucose (food for the brain) and blood flow to the brain decreases, causing patients to feel very fatigued. Simple tasks become very difficult, sometimes to the point of exhaustion.

Current best practice recommendations are to initially take 2-3 days of complete rest, then gradually return to normal activities. For most patients 1-2 weeks is enough time for a full recovery and they are back to their normal selves. However, others may take longer to recover, including patients with a history of: prior concussion, headache/migraine history, learning disabilities, or symptoms of fogginess at the time of the injury.

Younger athletes, ages 18 and younger, tend to take longer to recover than college or pro athletes, possibly due to brain development. Surprisingly, loss of consciousness has no influence on the length of time for expected recovery. The most important reason to allow for all symptoms to resolve prior to the return to contact sports is to avoid second impact syndrome which can compound the severity and risk for permanent brain damage.

In 2015, the NCAA published an article on the incidences of concussions based on data collected from five seasons. They noted that the exposure rates among all NCAA athletes was 4.47 per 10,000 athletes, with the largest rates being in men’s wrestling, men’s ice hockey, women’s ice hockey, and men’s football (respectively). Football has the highest number of concussions per year, but they also have the largest number of athletes per football team.

UP Health System – Portage has a comprehensive team providing the most up-to-date management for the treatment of patients with concussions. If you need help treating a concussion, call 906.483.1888.

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