Dr Tator discusses appropriate actions to take when a person is suspected of having concussion
Most individuals with a first concussion will make a full recovery when managed correctly.
Anyone suspected of having a concussion should:
- Be removed from play and not return to the game
- Not be left alone
- Not be given any medication unless directed by their physician
- Have their parent/guardian notified
- Be observed by a physician through the 6 Step Return to Play process.
This will ensure that the brain has recovered and the risk of further injury, or second event, is avoided.
It’s important that athletes, their families and coaches understand the seriousness of concussion. This can be difficult as it is not an obvious injury. Symptoms may take hours or days to develop, and when they do, they are essentially “invisible”. Unlike an ankle injury in which the obvious pain prompts one to rest, a brain injury is not as obvious, but it still calls for rest in order to heal.
Returning to play before the injury has healed can not only prolong the injury, but also put a person at risk for later and life threatening concussions.7 Time away from sport is important to give the brain time to rest and recover, but also to reduce the risk of re-injuring oneself while the brain is still very vulnerable. If another concussion is experienced before the first has had time to heal, the second concussion puts the individual at risk for long-term problems, or could even be fatal.
It’s important to the patient’s current and long-term health that they listen to their body and tell the doctor their exact symptoms. It is common to feel better than they actually are, but then realize differently later. This is because the brain recovers slower than the symptoms may suggest, which can cause frustration for the sufferer. Symptoms will improve, but the healing going on in the brain is often slower.
Concussion does not discriminate, and both professional and amateur athletes have experienced concussions resulting in short or long-term effects (including, depression, memory loss and headaches). Both professional and amateur athletes have talked openly about concussion and how it has affected their quality of life. Each concussion is different, from person to person, and from concussion to concussion. It’s important that patients continue to be honest with their doctors about what they’re going through, and together they can find a way to deal with it all.
Patients should return for scheduled follow-ups. It’s important to continue to review progress at each meeting and set new goals. If anything changes between meetings, an appointment should be made to come in earlier.