A soccer player bumps into her teammate and falls hard, hitting her head on the ground. She complains of a feeling dizzy and having a bad headache. Could this athlete have a concussion? Sometimes it’s hard to know if you (or someone you see get hurt) might have a concussion because the symptoms can vary quite a lot. Also, the length of time someone has symptoms can also differ from one person to the next.
One thing is certain though – head injuries are serious, and anyone who suffers an injury to their head needs plenty of time for their brain to heal. The general rule is: If you have a concussion, you won’t be able to return to any rough physical activity until your concussion symptoms are completely gone, including your ability to think clearly. When you do get the okay from your health care provider to go back to playing sports or other physical activities, you should do it slowly.
Did you know that many states have recently passed new laws that are meant to lower the chance of concussions and promote early treatment and full recovery? In the state of Massachusetts; school athletes cannot have more than 2 full-contact practices per week, and all adults involved with any athlete or sports team must receive special training every year on how to tell if someone has a concussion and how to get help for a student who might have one. Most importantly, anyone who has symptoms of a concussion must stop playing whatever activity they were doing right away. Injured students will need to see their health care provider or go to urgent care before returning to the activity, and a written plan must be in place so that the student will return to physical activities and schoolwork slowly in order to promote a full recovery.
Protect your brain and lower your risk of concussion by:
- Wearing a helmet (that fits well) when doing activities such as: biking, skateboarding, rollerblading, skiing, snowboarding, or playing contact sports.
- Buckling up and wearing a seatbelt anytime you’re in a vehicle (and avoid all drugs and alcohol because they can affect your judgment).
- Thinking before you participate in any activity that comes with big risks, especially to your head!