A TBI is a short name for a traumatic brain injury. It’s a severe injury that includes a concussion, which is usually created by a hit to your head or body that causes the brain to rattle back and forth. When your brain moves in that bouncy manner, it can also twist in your skull and cause chemical changes in your brain. Your brain cells can also be damaged or stretched. Anyone involved in the sports industry is probably aware of concussions, and they can occur in individual sports as well as contact sports.
Our brains are made of a soft material and surrounded by a protective fluid that shields the brain from hitting the hard skull. Brains float inside our skulls, and like the rest of our bodies, it can become bruised, blood vessels and nerves can tear, and it can all result in a temporary loss of brain function. It can be a terrifying injury!
Anything from a hit to a fall to an automobile accident can create concussion conditions. Speaking specifically to the sports world, the following can lead to a concussion:
- In football, avoid helmet to helmet tackles
- In hockey, getting slammed against the boards
- In soccer, incorrectly heading a ball
- Wiping out on a bike, a skateboard, or skis and snowboards
You can expect your doctor to ask questions about how your injury happened. He or she is also likely to test your memory, learning, and concentration. You may be asked to solve math problems, and to recall items your doctor showed you and then hid. You can also expect tests for reflexes, strength, sensation, balance, and coordination. Other neuropsychological tests may be performed, and your doctor may order tests like CT scans, and MRIs to ensure there is no bruising or bleeding.
Know the Symptoms
If you’ve taken a hit, you should immediately alert the coach, trainers, school nurse and get yourself checked out. If you do suffer a concussion, please stop playing, and sit out the games until your brain has had adequate time to rest and heal. Taking that huge step is the right way to ensure that you do not suffer from any long-term brain damage. If you continue with your sport, you put yourself at risk for second impact syndrome. It doesn’t occur frequently; however, it can create lasting brain damage or death. If you’re involved in an organized sport, the coach and trainers are likely to perform sideline testing to determine if more extensive medical care is needed. They may also compare sideline test results to baseline tests, performed earlier in your career to see if your brain function is normal. It’s also important to note that concussion symptoms may take up to three days to become noticeable.
Common concussion symptoms include:
- Headaches, blurred vision, or dizziness
- Sensitive to light or noise
- Lack of coordination or feeling out of balance
- Dilated pupils
- Slurred speech or not understanding someone speaking to you
- Being dazed or confused, trouble with concentration or focus, thinking or decision making
- Seizures or convulsions
- Memory issues
- Sleepy or a change in sleep habits
- Feeling sad, emotional, anxious, or irritable
Although you may pass out and lose consciousness, it isn’t a concussion requirement. However, if you do pass out and have trouble remembering what happened right before, you are vulnerable to a concussion. Some athletes recover in a few hours and others can take up to a few weeks.
A concussion is nothing to let go, even though they are a fact of life when you play sports. Rules, in this case, are not made to be broken. In sports, rules exist to protect you, your body, and your health. Failing to follow the rules is going to put you and the other players at risk for unnecessary injury. Always wear protective equipment as dictated by the sport’s regulations. That equipment includes helmets and mouth guards. Other tips are teaching your child about playground safety, the importance of obeying all sports rules, and making sure they know the symptoms of a concussion. Remove obstacles in your home and yard that may lead to falls. Always practice automobile safety as well.
The best treatment is rest, for a concussion. Other tips to help with healing include:
- Sleeping well at night and taking things easy during the day
- Lay off any alcohol or recreational drug use
- Avoid things that require physical actions or are demanding mentally
- If you experience swelling, an ice pack for ten to 20 minutes may be helpful
- Avoid pain medications unless approved by your doctor, acetaminophen may be fine to take
When Can I Go Back to Play?
Only when a medical professional tells you, it’s okay and not a minute before! Even if you feel fine, all your facilities may not have yet returned to your normal conditions. Again, try not to feel pressure from your coach or teammates, you must protect yourself, it’s why rules are in place in every sport.
How does your doctor know when it’s time for you to return to play? He or she looks for the following signals:
- You recover all memory and ability to concentrate
- All concussion symptoms are gone
- Your symptoms don’t return after light jogging, sit-ups, pushups or sprinting
If any of your symptoms return once you’re back in the game, stop immediately to allow for a proper diagnosis.
According to Active Beat, 100 to 600 people per 100,000 worldwide, experience at least a mild TBI. Individuals between the ages of 15 and 24 have the highest incidents of concussions. Males are more inclined to concussion than females and experience four times the chance of death. People at the greatest risk for TBI are five to nine-year old’s and adults over the age of 80.
Injury rates per 1,000 athletes fall into the following sports. This is a limited list of the top ten sports.
- Women’s Ice Hockey
- Men’s Football
- Men’s Ice Hockey
- Women’s Soccer
- Men’s Soccer
- Men’s Lacrosse
- Women’s Lacrosse
- Men’s Wrestling
- Women’s Basketball
- Women’s Field Hockey
Play smart and stay safe!