Bell Rung: When to Suspect a Sports Concussion, and When to Bring Them In

Posted on November 09, 2021

Category: Physical Injury

It’s the day of the big football game with two minutes left in the Fourth Quarter. You’re the star quarterback and the crowd hypes you up as you make your way onto the field. The score is tied 14-14. Both teams are in their starting positions. You brace behind your center, who is ready to snap you the ball. You yell, “HUT!”, and the ball flies into your hands. Your eyes dart around the field searching for the next open player – WHAM!

You’re on the ground.

You’re struggling to get up. Noticing this, your family and teammates rush out to you on the field. They’re asking you questions but something is off about your responses: from forgetting where you are to replying very slowly. You coach deems you unfit to play, and your family decides to rush you to the hospital.

Shortly after your arrival, the Doctor tells you that the defensive end from the opposite team rushed you from behind and you landed straight on your head leaving you with a concussion.

How Serious is a Concussion?

On your way to the hospital, your family may have told you some of the odd things you were saying – but you have no memory of it. That’s because a concussion can temporarily impair specific brain functions like your memory, speech, and coordination.

While doctors can’t give an exact textbook definition on what a concussion is, it’s no mystery that they’re caused by high impacts to the head. These are most common in vehicle accidents, falls, and sports injuries. They can even result in death.

Let’s go back in time.

Some of you may or not be familiar with late NFL linebacker Tiaina Baul Seau Jr. Better known by his nickname “Junior.” He was a natural on the field – being a 10-time All-Pro and a 12-time Pro Bowl selection. He started with the Los Angeles Chargers (at the time San Diego) finished his career as a member of the New England Patriots.

On May 2, 2012, Seau was found dead in his home from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to his chest. Nearly a year after the autopsy, on January 10, 2013, the NIH findings revealed that his brain showed clear signs of CTE – this is a neurodegenerative disease that’s caused by repeated blows to the head. Depression is one of the major symptoms of CTE.

In short, over his near two-decade career, Seau sustained so many blows to the head that it resulted in him developing depression so severe that it caused him to take his own life.

Unless you already knew the story, you might not have a thought that’s how it was going to end.

Depending on the severity, a life can end instantly after a blow to the head. Other times, in the case of Seau, the injury can fester like a cancer and damage you in unsuspecting ways. Scarier yet is it can happen to anyone.

Concussions in Sports

Based on a study conducted in 2010 by the U.S. Department of Health and Human services, each year it’s estimated that 38 million children and adolescents take part in organized sports. In addition, 170 million adults participate in a physical activity of some kind.

Concurrently, in the U.S., it’s estimated that 1.7 million people sustain a Traumatic Brain Injury – with around 1.365 million visiting the ER in the 2000’s. The Centers for Disease Control estimates around 1.6 to 3.8 million concussions occur in sports and other recreational activities annually.

But getting hit in the head, while dangerous, doesn’t always mean you’re going to suffer a concussion. Chances are just as likely that it could be a mild head injury.

Concussion vs Head Injury

According to NHS, UK, most head injuries are not very serious. As in, they don’t require immediate medical attention, and you should recover within a couple of weeks.

When it comes to minor head injuries your home can be your hospital. Common signs of a head injury are a slight headache, feeling sick, or dazed for around two weeks.

You can treat a head injury by:

  • Holding an ice pack (or something frozen, wrapped in a towel) to the injury for short periods to prevent swelling.
  • Resting and avoid stressful situations
  • Not taking pain relievers like aspirin or ibuprofen as they could cause more internal bleeding.
  • Having someone by you for the first 24 hours.

What separates a head injury from a concussion is quite significant. Concussion symptoms are far more extreme. Major signs that you, or someone, should call the nearest hospital if a person or child whose hit their head has:

  • Been knocked out and aren’t waking up
  • Trouble staying awake
  • A seizure or fit
  • Problems with vision
  • Clear fluid coming from their ears or nose
  • Bleeding from or bruising behind their ears
  • Numbness or weakness in parts of their body
  • Problems with walking, talking, or understanding
  • Been hurt in a serious accident (i.e., car crash, etc.)

These symptoms usually appear within minutes of the injury. If you notice any of these, chances are you or someone you know is suffering from a concussion. Contact Sioux Falls Urgent Care right away.

Caring For Your Concussion.

When treating your concussion, there are simple remedies that can heal you back to your full cognitive and physical strength.

They key to recovery is by getting complete rest. This involves more than just resting physically, but by resting mentally too. Ease your mind by avoiding reading, video games, doing anything on the computer, or watching T.V.

The recovery period can take anywhere between 7 to 10 days. However, some people have symptoms last for weeks or months post-injury.

Once your symptoms have gone away, you can start your journey back to the things you love. You can finally walk to the bathroom and keep up on your favorite show… at the same time!

But you don’t have to get sidelined to start thinking about concussions. They’re a lot like a defensive end; there are steps you can take to prepare for one, even if you don’t see them coming.

Keep Your Head in the Game and Protected from a Concussion.

Wearing a helmet or head protection is one of the best things you can do to prevent a head injury – in nearly any sport. It’s your best defense against any heavy blows you might take to the head. It’s not always a guarantee that you won’t get hurt, but it’s better than your bare head meeting the ground at full force.

We have a blog that further details common sports injuries and how you can prevent them. It explains that you can be proactive in prevention by strengthening your shoulder and neck muscles to absorb the severity of your injury.

Post-Concussion Conundrums.

If not treated properly, there can be long-term effects from a concussion. These can range from depression, anxiety, insomnia to headaches, drowsiness, and arthritis.

It’s important during this time, to stay ahead of these effects, to develop a consistent sleep schedule and maintain a healthy diet. For more information on how to treat or prevent these symptoms, call your doctor or stop in to Sioux Falls Urgent Care.

Keep Your Head Up

In 2011, the NFL enacted their NFL Game Day Concussion Diagnosis and Management Protocol. It’s reviewed every year to ensure that players are getting care that reflects the most up-to-date metical identification, diagnosis, and treatment of concussions.

You can’t predict a concussion, but you can always be ready for one.

When you’re partaking in a rough sport – like football, make sure you wear a helmet or some form of head protection. If you or someone you know suffers a rough blow to the head, check for the signs. If you suspect they, or you, have a concussion, immediately seek out medical attention. Listen to your medical professionals – they’re your recovery coach.

In life, we’re all on the same team. When you’re down, we’ll be there right away to pick you back up. If you or someone you know is experience concussion-like symptoms, contact the team at Sioux Falls Urgent Care. Our expertise in our field will help you get back out on yours.