When a person suffers from a concussion, they need to seek immediate medical attention. The sooner help is received, the sooner the healing process can begin.
The most important part of the concussion healing process is rest, both mentally and physically. After initial diagnosis, all physical exertions, including sports, should be avoided until symptoms improve and a doctor clears you for play. Mentally, all thinking activities should be limited to allow the brain to rest. This means limited studying, TV, video games, reading, using a computer, homework and texting.
While most people fully recover from concussions, the rate at which healing occurs depends on several factors, including age, severity of concussion, the individual’s health before the concussion and what the individual does after diagnosis.
Because headaches are common, acetaminophen (Tylenol) may be used for pain relief, but other pain relievers, including ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB), should be avoided due to increased risk of bleeding on the brain following the injury.
To recover swiftly, concussion victims should rest as much as possible. Sometimes this involves a doctor recommending you only attend half a day at school or working partial days to allow the brain time to heal without overworking. Getting an adequate number of hours of sleep each night is also essential. When it comes to daily tasks, avoid overdoing it and avoid any that are physically demanding.
The more concussions sustained over the course of a lifetime can lead to lasting and progressive mental impairments, including CTE. It’s imperative to allow your concussion to heal completely and receive a doctor’s clearance before returning to play to keep the brain as safe as possible. An athlete should never return to play the same day a concussion is received.
The CDC indicates that in most situations, a full recovery from a concussion is expected. In some cases, symptoms and recovery may last longer, especially among older adults, children and teens. Recovery is dependent upon the brain having time to rest and heal before being used for strenuous activities, including studying and working on a computer.
If a brain injury occurs while playing a high-contact sport, such as football, it is crucial to wait until cleared by a medical professional to return to play. An athlete should never return to play the same day a concussion is received.
The very nature of head injuries is unpredictability, making absolute prevention impossible. A car accident, fall or hit can occur at any moment, anywhere, potentially leading to a concussion. Precautions exist to minimize the risks and keep the brain as safe as possible.
Wear your seatbelt: Whether you’re the driver or passenger, buckling your seatbelt is an absolute must for safety. Not only can this prevent an injury to the head, it can keep you and the other people in the vehicle safe.
Use the right car seat: Similar to wearing your seatbelt, make sure your child fits in the car seat or booster to minimalize risk of concussion.
Don’t drink and drive: An impaired driver is a dangerous one! Driving while under the influence puts everyone sharing the road at risk for a car accident and potentially a mild TBI.
Wear the correct protective gear: Always wear a helmet when riding a bike, scooter, motorcycle, horse or skateboard; playing contact sports; playing baseball or softball; skiing or snowboarding. The correct protective gear that is in good condition and fits properly can keep the head and body safer from violent impacts.
Stay active and exercise regularly: Strengthening your leg muscles and core can improve balance and help reduce the risk of falling, especially in the elderly.
Keep your home safe: Slips and falls may happen in the home, so it’s essential to make sure everything is well-lit and no objects are on the floor. Use window guards and stairway blocks to keep children safe.
Be educated: Knowing the signs and symptoms of concussions is crucial to ensure a quick diagnosis and removal from harmful activities. By knowing about the concussion risks, you can spread awareness and keep other brains safe as well.