The seriousness of concussions cannot be overstated.
Health care providers are becoming more aware of the effects of concussions (also known as Acquired Brain Injury – ABI). What was once a, “get up and shake it off” occurrence, has now become a proper assessment with protocols for monitoring the status of the individual as they return to work or sports. ABI is a physical injury to the brain (concussions). It can be caused by a blow to the head, severe rotation of the neck or whiplash, or even from a lack of oxygen. Over 160,000 Canadians suffer brain injuries every year and, with better reporting, that number gets more accurate and thus keeps rising.
Concussions can occur many different ways and can have many different symptoms. No two concussions are identical. About 50% of ABI’s come from falls and motor vehicle accidents. While many injuries are mild and fully recover (80 – 90% in 7 – 10 days), many can last for much longer. Some of the symptoms are temporary – headaches, vomiting, concentration issues, memory issues and balance problems. However, some issues can be longer standing – personality changes, sensitivity to light and noise, sleep problems, depression and other psychological issues. Prognosis for ABI’s depends on many factors. Red flags include post traumatic amnesia, history of previous ABI, skull fracture, nausea and dizziness after injury. Treatment for concussions are rest, rest, and more rest. Also, those recovering have to limit their exposure to stimulation and thinking that taxes the brain (computer screens and video games). Return to work or sports is the responsibility of the treating doctor. Premature return increases risks of second impact syndrome (can be fatal). The seriousness of this condition cannot be overstated. New imaging techniques are developed to show the extent of the injury and direct treatment. Hopefully those tests will help those suffering to have the greatest chance of recovery and advocacy. This article was originally published in the Fall 2016 issue of Disclosure. Click here to read the complete newsletter.