Dr. Marc Molis, MD, FAAFP
Sports Medicine of Iowa
What is a concussion?
A concussion is an injury to the brain that affects how the brain functions and processes information. The injury to the brain does not show up on imaging such as CT scans or MRI's, so the diagnosis is based on symptoms and on examination. Concussions affect the ability of the brain to process information, so can result in quite a few different symptoms.
What are the signs and symptoms of a concussion?
- If the athlete has experienced any type of head injury, you really want to watch them for:
- Sleep disturbances
- Memory and concentration difficulties
- Mood swings
- Sensitivity to sound and light
- Nausea and vomiting
Remember, you do not need to lose consciousness to have a concussion!!
So, what should you do if your child is diagnosed with a concussion?
- After a concussion, the brain needs time to heal. It is very important for young adults to wait until all symptoms of a concussion have cleared up before returning to normal activities. Recovery time depends on how long the symptoms last.
- Someone diagnosed with a concussion should not participate in sports or other physical activities until the doctor or medical personal such as an athletic trainer says it is safe. Even with a mild concussion a child should take a break from activities - as it make take less force to sustain a second or subsequent concussion. Evidence shows that repeated concussions can result in lasting brain damage - even when the injuries occur months or years apart.
- Just as important as physical rest is what we term "cognitive rest," meaning that activities such as listening to music, watching TV, or reading use "brain power" and cause the brain to not heal as quickly. I usually recommend that people who have suffered from a concussion limit their activities to work or school. I also recommend that they limit TV, movies, computer use, listening to music, using cell phones, or texting, video games. Electronic devices in general will stimulate the brain and cause more irritation. Also be careful with loud environments such as malls, concerts, sporting events. I will also recommend holding activities such as band and choir, as the music may aggravate a concussion.
What can we do to help prevent concussions?
- All children should wear appropriate headgear and safety equipment when biking, roller blading, skateboarding, snowboarding or skiing, and playing contact sports such as football.
- Follow up with a physician who is familiar with concussions so you can get back to playing your sport as quickly and safely as possible.
- Follow the guidelines when it comes to concussions. Be honest with your athletic trainer and your doctor about your symptoms.
- Follow the return to play guidelines. Going back to sports and activities too early can lead to increased symptoms and delay healing.
*To schedule an appointment with Dr. Marc Molis, call 515-276-3406.