17 Nov The Dangers of Concussions
Concussions have been a largely talked about topic in the medical and sports communities. Contact sports, such as football, put athletes at high risk for repeated concussions. Until recently, the long term effects of concussion has not been truly understood. Concussions are sometimes described as a “mild” brain injury because they are not immediately life-threatening or do not immediately lead to major loss of ability. However, when compounded over time, concussions can significantly impact a person’s quality of life and day to day ability to function.
Concussions are caused when some kind of impact causes the brain to move back and forth in a rapid motion, potentially hitting the skull. In some cases, this can lead to chemical changes in the brain, or lead to brain cells stretching and becoming damaged. One of the reasons concussions are so difficult to understand is because each brain injury is unique. When a person undergoes concussion, some people may show signs immediately, while others may be delayed, while others may never show signs.
Most people who experience mild concussion can make a full recovery. The problem truly comes when a person experiences multiple concussions over their lifetime. While it may seem they make a full recovery initially, the damage to the brain can show up as symptoms later on in life. The more times a person experiences brain trauma, the more likely it will be they have long last symptoms later on in life. Long term symptoms of concussion can include everything from balance problems to heartbeat irregularities to memory loss, anger, and depression. Often, these ailments are never attributed to a concussion, which has made understanding the long term effects of repeated concussions so difficult.
Athletes who compete in sports such as football are at an increased risk for repeated concussions. While most athletes are not willing to stop playing their sport of choice due to concussion risk, it is important to take as many precautions as possible. Anyone, including athletes, who have undergone a concussion, should obtain professional medical attention immediately. It is also important to not return to any dangerous activities until you have been cleared by a medical professional. Incurring another concussion on top of a concussion that is not fully healed, only amplifies the potential damage to the brain.
Treatment of concussions is very difficult because each brain injury is unique. It usually requires a wide range of tests to determine what part of the brain was affected, and whether or not the symptoms are likely to lead to problems later on in life. On the surface, concussions may not seem like a big deal because people do not usually need surgery and recover within a couple of days to a couple of weeks. However, it is important to remember there is still a lot of unknown information about the long term effects of concussions. While every case is different, it is true amongst all cases that the more times a person experiences a concussion, the more likely they will be to have problems later on in life.