We hear a lot these days about concussions in sports, and the concussion protocols the major sports leagues use to treat athletes when they suffer a head injury. Concussions are a potential casualty of sports, whether it’s an outfielder banging into the left-field wall or an NFL player taking a significant hit.
But concussions are also very common in auto accidents, workplace accidents, and other personal injuries such as slips or falls. If you suffer a concussion, it’s essential to be treated quickly by doctors who specialize in head injuries and trauma to the brain.
At Tri County Pain Management Centers, we have a board-certified neurologist and head injury specialist on our team of doctors, specially trained to diagnose and treat concussions.
So, how do you know if you’ve had a concussion?
If you’ve been in an accident, symptoms of head trauma and concussion can show up right away or take hours or days to appear. A neurologist can test for concussion symptoms and provide a concussion protocol to help in your care.
It can be easy to dismiss some signs of concussion, but if you experience a head injury, you should seek medical help.
For instance, say you’ve been in a car crash and walk away without feeling any apparently “severe” injuries. However, soon after, you don’t feel like your “normal” self. Maybe it’s a minor headache or a sense of “brain fog, or trouble sleeping or focusing at work. These can be signs of a concussion.
Concussion symptoms vary and range from very minor — almost not apparent — to much more severe and obvious. In sports, you’ve probably seen players who battle with their coaches to remain in the game, only to be diagnosed with a concussion shortly after.
It’s no different after an auto or work accident — your instinct may be to keep on with your daily routine. But your brain is delicate, so don’t delay getting checked for any type of head injury.
What is a concussion?
A concussion is a brain injury, which prevents your brain from working the way it usually does. This sensation can last for a short time or become more permanent.
A concussion often happens when there is impact or trauma to the head, or the brain suffers shaking in the skull. The shaking can cause tears in nerve tissue or internal bruising and bleeding.
When you see a pain doctor, they will likely grade your concussion based on severity:
Grade One generally means you have not lost consciousness and don’t suffer amnesia (or not for very long).
Grade Two may involve some loss of consciousness — you pass out for less than five minutes or lose your memory for less than 24 hours.
Grade Three concussions are when you pass out for more than five minutes or suffer memory problems for more than 24 hours.
What are the most common causes of concussions?
The National Football League and Major League Baseball both get a lot of attention for their concussion protocols. Still, the most common cause of head injuries is motor accidents and falls.
Nearly 300,000 traumatic brain injuries occur annually in car accidents, and motorcycle or bike accidents cause even more. Slips and falls and being hit by something at work also can cause severe head trauma.
Initial concussion symptoms can last just days or weeks, but even mild concussions may last up to a year. This risk is why it’s crucial to get a proper diagnosis and follow the concussion recovery protocol established by your pain doctor.
Head trauma can also lead to emotional issues and depression, and at Tri County Pain Management, we also have a psychiatrist on staff to assist patients with these matters.
What are some of the symptoms of a concussion?
Symptoms of head trauma vary widely and may not present immediately after an accident. Here are some of the more common symptoms you may have experienced severe head trauma:
• Difficulty with your memory
• Unable to focus or think properly
• Trouble concentrating
• Headaches, nausea, or vomiting
• Blurry vision or light sensitivity in your eyes
• Feeling extra tired or having little energy
• Difficulty sleeping
• Problems with balance
• Emotional changes, such as feeling sad, irritable, or angry
These are only a few of the symptoms which may appear with concussions, and for many people, symptoms won’t show up immediately or seem “severe” enough to see a doctor. If you suffer a head injury, it’s always essential that you visit a doctor as soon as possible — no matter how minor the damage may seem.
If you experience any of the following symptoms, you must seek immediate medical attention at an emergency room:
• Slurred speech or difficulty speaking
• Feeling numb in your limbs
• Cannot wake up
• One of your eyes seems larger than another
• Having seizures
• Inability to recognize family or friends
• Passing out
Your pain doctor will prescribe a concussion protocol to help you in your recovery. Avoiding any other injuries to your head is essential. Preventing re-injury is one reason why sports teams take players out of games and place them on injured reserve lists as they heal.
Rest is vital, as is slowing down your everyday routine. Talk to your pain doctor about ways you can adjust your schedule to give yourself the rest and care your injury will need. It may involve giving your brain some extra “time off” from activities that take a lot of brainpower and avoiding alcohol or other substances.
Your doctor will also advise you when it’s safe to drive your car, ride a bike or return to work.
The bottom line: Head injuries are nothing to take lightly, as they can develop into severe, long-lasting issues if not properly treated.
If you or a loved one suffers a head injury, get the medical care you need immediately, and then contact Tri County Pain Management Centers at 215-486-1800. We have a team of experienced and friendly physicians to help you recover, including specialists in concussion and brain trauma.
For more information, visit www.TriCountyPMC.com or call 215-486-1800.