Summer is slowly starting to fizzle away and fall is just around the corner. With fall comes the start of seasonal sports such as football, volleyball, wrestling, etc. With an increase in sports activities comes an increase in head-related injuries, including concussions. Keep reading to learn how to identify a concussion, recognize the signs and symptoms and learn what to do for recovery.

What is a concussion?

A concussion is an actual injury to the brain. When your head takes a beating you don’t just injure the outside of your head (bruises, bumps, etc.), you injure the inside as well. A concussion affects the neurons and nerve tracts in your brain. If the nerve tracts in your brain are damaged, they have a hard time carrying messages to the brain to tell it what to do. When this happens, it can change the way a person thinks, acts, feels and moves. Not only that, but body temperature, blood pressure, bowel and bladder control can also be affected. Depending on the severity of the concussion, these changes can either be permanent or temporary.

What are the symptoms of a concussion?

Symptoms of a concussion can sometimes be noticed right away, other times not. Occasionally, it can take days until a person notices any symptoms.

Frequent concussion symptoms:

  • Headache or pressure in the head
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Loss of balance, dizziness
  • Double vision or blurry vision
  • Easily bothered by light and noise
  • May feel sluggish, hazy, groggy,foggy
  • Could have memory or concentration problems
  • Confusion
  • Difficulty paying attention

What to do if you think you have a concussion?

First, tell your coach, athletic trainer, parents, etc. that you think you had a concussion. Never ignore any signs or symptoms. It is always best to get your head checked out by a physician or other licensed medical professional. This could be a doctor, nurse practitioner, etc. Typically, a licensed medical professional will be trained in pediatric traumatic brain injury. Lastly, give yourself time to recover.

What does recovery look like?

It is important to take time to rest after you have had a concussion. You do not want to have a second concussion on top of a first concussion that has not healed yet. If you have concussions back-to-back, the damage to your brain increases and it takes longer to fully recover. Most people recover from concussions quickly and fully, if allowed adequate time to rest. When you receive the OK to participate in activity again (from your licensed medical professional), make sure to keep activity light at first, and then slowly increase to regular, pre-concussion activity levels.

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