The fall season is approaching, which means many sporting seasons are also kicking off. Concussions, recognized or not, occur across all levels of sport. Whether high school, recreational, college-level or professional sport, all athletes are at risk.
The knowledge gap
While the dissemination of education around concussions has improved over the past twenty years, many people may not associate health problems they are experiencing with a recent blow to head. Adults demonstrate adequate knowledge around concussion causes and prevention strategies, but require further understanding of the symptoms.
A 2017 study looked at athletes at an American university to better understand their level of education in reference to concussions. The study included student-athletes before and after country-wide legislation had been passed, requiring them to receive mandated concussion education. Of the 249 participants, 25 percent reported receiving no formal education on concussions. On top of that, students both with and without the formal education had a poor understanding of what concussion symptoms looked like.
Depending on the severity of the impact to the head, the symptoms that follow will vary. If you experience a loss of consciousness, memory loss, nausea/vomiting or headache, you should seek medical attention right away. However, some people feel relatively normal post-injury, or symptoms may come on later. If you, or a loved one, have recently experienced a head injury, be aware of the potential symptoms that could follow:
- Ringing ears
If you notice a consistent ringing in your ears, it could be an indication of a concussion. In the short-term, you may want to limit exposing yourself to loud noise, use earplugs and listen to white noise to aid in sleeping.
- Persistent headache
You may experience tension-type headaches, which feels like a plastic band wrapped around your head, or migraines. The headaches could be related to a neck injury that occurred simultaneously with the impact to the head.
Do you seem to have less energy than you did before your injury? Are you feeling not only physically exhausted, but also mentally? Persistent fatigue, unrelated to motivation, may be a red flag for concussion.
- Trouble sleeping
Post traumatic sleep–wake disturbances could be the culprit of your poor night’s sleep. Poor sleep routines can impact your quality of life and are often associated with traumatic brain injuries. It may be helpful to track the amount of sleep you are getting, and seek help if you note a serious lack in restful sleep.
- Sensitivity to light
One common symptom post-concussion is sensitivity to light. In our screen-rich society, this could be something you notice sooner than later. If you find the exposure to bright light leading to a headache more often than not, it could be related to your injury.
- Taste and smell complications
Changes in taste and smell, also known as olfactory dysfunction, can greatly impact an individual’s life in the long term. While you may be focused on other symptoms, lack of smell or taste may be a red flag for concussion.
- Trouble concentrating
Going hand-in-hand with sleep disturbances, light sensitivity, fatigue and headaches, you may find it difficult to concentrate when focusing on tasks that have always been relatively simple. If you find yourself constantly distracted when carrying out these tasks, you should take note.
- Personality/psychological changes
Although more research is required in this area, recent studies suggest post-concussion syndrome can lead to changes in personality and psychological state. If you feel like you may be experiencing a mental health crisis, or not quite like yourself, it’s always beneficial to reach out to a healthcare professional or someone you trust.
- Memory loss
Perhaps a common symptom of concussion, memory loss or confusion post-injury is something to look out for — in particular, recall around the incident itself.
If you or your loved one notice the above symptoms and they persist, seek counsel from a physician. Symptoms may not appear right away, so do not be alarmed if you start noticing differences weeks or months after your head injury. By taking action earlier than later, you can gain access to the resources and support you need to treat your potential concussion and get back to your normal way of life.
Learn more about the treatment used in the Heuro™ Program here, and talk to your doctor to see if Heuro™ Programs are right for you. Find a clinic near you to set up a free 15-minute consultation.
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