Your brain is one of the best-protected organs in your body. It’s shielded by the skull and three structural barriers to keep harmful compounds out. However, that doesn’t make the brain invincible. If you suffer a heavy blow to the head, a concussion can occur.
What Is A Concussion?
A concussion is a traumatic brain injury resulting from a violent blow to the head, neck, or upper body. Although the brain can withstand minor jolts, sudden and forceful movements can cause the brain to move or slam against the walls of your skull. Contact sports like football, hockey, and soccer, as well as falls and car accidents, are the common causes of concussions.
A concussion affects the nerves and blood vessels in your brain, resulting in chemical changes that briefly impair normal brain function. In most cases, the effects are temporary. Here are common symptoms of a concussion:
- Ringing in the ears
- Nausea or vomiting
- Double or blurry vision
- Balance problems
- Sensitivity to noise and light
- Loss of memory (in some cases)
While some people lose consciousness after suffering a concussion, many people don’t. You might experience dizziness immediately after hitting your head, but other symptoms can appear days or even weeks after the injury.
What Is Concussion Protocol?
If you sustain a head injury, a concussion protocol will help guide the response of your medical provider, sports coach, teacher, rehabilitation professionals, and the other people around you. A concussion protocol is a set of organizational policies that contain essential information to care for an injured individual. Most states require schools to have concussion protocols for student-athletes.
This is crucial to ensuring patients, whether workers or athletes, receive proper care, avoid complications, and recover from a concussion.
A concussion protocol generally includes educating all stakeholders about concussions, including its definition, symptoms, immediate recognition, and management of the injury. It also follows these steps:
Pre-season Baseline Testing
This is an exam conducted by a trained professional ideally before your first practice to assess your brain functions and check for any concussion symptoms. Baseline testing should also check for prior history of concussions and other medical conditions that could affect your recovery. The baseline test results are then compared against post-injury results if the athlete has a suspected concussion.
Removal from Activity Criteria
Individuals with a suspected concussion are immediately removed from their activity for further evaluation. Many concussions go unreported, and complications may occur should you continue to play or work despite having signs and symptoms of a concussion.
Sideline Assessment Procedures
This is an objective test conducted within minutes of the injury comparing pre-season baseline test results to post-injury results.
The Standardized Assessment of Concussion (SAC) is a screening instrument developed to help clinicians evaluate an individual’s neurocognitive functioning. Printed on pocket-sized cards for convenience, the SAC grades an injured individual based on orientation, immediate memory, concentration, and delayed recall.
Clinical Evaluation Tests
For severe injuries, you might be brought to a hospital to go through imaging tests like a CT scan to check for any bleeding or swelling. An MRI scan may also be used to take a detailed look inside your brain and identify potential complications.
Mild cases of concussion usually require physical and mental rest to recover. For the first two to three days, refrain from checking on your phone or listening to loud music, which can overstimulate your brain and worsen your symptoms. Avoid physically demanding tasks. If the pain is severe, your doctor may prescribe pain medication.
Academic Adjustment Guidelines
Since most cases of concussion need ample amounts of rest, you might need some time off school or longer breaks to meet school requirements.
Return to Activity Procedures
Once your symptoms improve, your doctor will allow you to gradually include more tasks to your routine, increase your activity levels, and give you the go-signal to return to sports or work. Your provider will also educate you on how to recognize signs of concussions and prevent future head injuries.
Concussion Care in Colorado
Minor concussions resolve themselves within days or weeks, but there is often no way of knowing how severe your concussion is without the help of a medical professional. If signs and symptoms of a concussion are not recognized and cared for, it can lead to post-traumatic symptoms. Moreover, a second concussion occurring before the symptoms of a first concussion are addressed can lead to brain swelling. If you or anyone you know is showing signs of a concussion, do not delay and seek professional help immediately.
For timely concussion diagnosis and treatment, visit Front Range Spine and Neurosurgery in Colorado. Our board-certified specialists have specialized knowledge and clinical experience in a wide range of cranial conditions, including concussions and shock injuries.
To schedule a consultation, call (303) 790-1800 or fill out our online appointment request form. We welcome your call and look forward to serving you.