Concussion is a traumatic brain injury that is defined as a complex process affecting the brain, caused by external mechanical forces.
What causes a concussion?
A concussion is caused by a force transmitted to the head or body, which causes movement of brain tissue within the skull.
It is the high-speed movement of the brain tissue inside and against the skull, which causes concussion and therefore is not always caused by a direct impact to the head.
Concussion can be a result of a direct impact to any part of the body, if the impact is large enough to transmit force to the head and disturb or increase movement of the brain within the skull.
Whilst most people think head on collisions and front on impacts in sports are the most common scenario for a concussion injury- both linear and rotational forces affecting the head or body can cause concussion.
The amount of force required to cause a concussion varies and therefore you cannot judge the extent of the concussion by the incident itself.
Examples of causes of concussion include:
- Linear acceleration caused by: whiplash and/or direct impact front on, such as a head clash,
- Vertical acceleration caused by compression: from a direct blow to the top of the head or from landing from a large fall/jump,
- Angular acceleration caused by head/neck rotation: a large tackle where your trunk is twisted one way and your head/neck in the opposite direction or a direct impact to the side of the head or body.
Signs and Symptoms of concussion:
- Loss of consciousness
- Neck pain
- Blurred vision
- Nausea or vomiting
- Balance problems
- Seizures and or convulsions
- Fatigue /low energy
- Nervous /anxious
- Feeling slowed down
- Difficulty remembering
- Feeling foggy
- Sensitive to light or noise
- Difficulty concentrating
- Neck and spinal cord injuries,
- Facial and Skull fractures,
- Tooth loss and dental fractures,
- Upper back and abdominal trauma,
- Ear impairment,
- Musculoskeletal injuries.
Immediate management of Concussion:
1. Recognize the injury,
2. Remove from play (when safe, following DRABCD)
3. Refer to a Doctor,
5. Return to Play (when cleared by Doctor)
A person with a SUSPECTED concussion must be removed from play immediately. The player should be assessed by a health professional BEFORE returning to play.
Recognition tools should be used to assess a person with a suspected concussion. There are two recognition tools that can be used which include:
- Concussion recognition tool 5 (for use by anyone) can be found online through British Journal of Sports Medicine for free download and use,
- SCAT 5 used by licensed health professionals only,
- 5 R’s (Recognise the injury, remove from play, refer, rest & return to play when cleared by Medical Professional).
Post concussion complications:
- Impaired performance,
- Increased risk of injury on return to play,
- 5-10% suffer prolonged symptoms (post concussion syndrome).
Our Physiotherapists at Enhance Physiotherapy can assist you with a Graduated Return to Sport Strategy to assist you with returning to sport post concussion.
And remember, “If in doubt, sit them out”.