We hear about it with more and more frequency.
The play-by-play announcer describing an athlete showing tell-tale signs of a concussion after some kind of hit to the head.
But what is a concussion?
Dr. Cirelle Rosenblatt is the clinical director of the Advanced Concussion Clinic in Vancouver
“A concussion is an injury that can occur either by a hit to the head, or hit to the body. That causes the brain to shake, with some force, within the skull.”
One of the scary things about concussions is you may not know you have one.
“In the immediate aftermath of an injury, a player, a student, or, you know, an athlete, might be asked, ‘how do you feel?’ And the athlete might be able to respond fine, and they really might not feel any immediate symptoms. But they could look – let’s just say – wobbly on their feet, or slightly off balance, and that could be enough of a sign that something’s occurred. Even if the individual isn’t entirely aware that they’ve suffered a significant injury.”
So, what symptoms should we look for?
“They involve dizziness, and headaches, or fatigue, but sometimes visual changes, you know, where they might experience blurry vision or double vision, and emotional changes, where there’s some mood changes in a person, and they feel a little lower mood or more anxious. And even cognitive changes, such as thinking, or concentration difficulties.”
What do you do if you suffer a concussion?
“So the important thing to understand with a concussion is really just to make sure that nobody goes back to play or sport or any risk of repeat injury without knowing that, without a reasonable certainty, that they’re healed. So, in those instances, we really want to know that the symptoms have resolved, and they’re not presenting for at least a 24-hour period. If a person doesn’t get better on their own, and spontaneously recover fully, then they need rehabilitation. Getting that rehabilitation will allow them to achieve that recovery.”
LISTEN to the CKNW Health Series report on concussions:
CKNW asks: Should helmets be mandatory for skiers and snowboarders?
We know that helmets are mandatory by law for cyclists in B.C., but not for skiers and snowboarders.
We decided to ask people if they think they should be. It was unanimous, we could not find one person who thought people had the right to chose. Instead, everyone said they should be mandatory.
Tips to protect against concussions
“There’s really two areas that are available to every person to focus on if they’re involved in athletics and sports, and that is strengthening neck muscles – doing exercises that support the neck, and really focusing on that with a trainer or a coach is really helpful.
But I think, really, the most important type of prevention that we have that’s acceptable to everybody is to get a comprehensive baseline test, which doesn’t need to be terribly expensive, but really just helps let you know what a person’s ‘normal’ is in the area most affected by the injury.””
Head traumas are serious injuries, and Dr. Rosenblatt says you need to recover FULLY before getting back to the activity that caused the concussion in the first place.
“Mild traumatic brain injuries are concussions – they do happen – and you can get better. It’s a treatable injury. So most important is, if the symptoms are persistent, then to not wait too long to get that treatment, and then get back to what your normal life”