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Brain wrapped in a bandageWhat is a Concussion?

A concussion is a brain injury. It’s the result of a strong force being passed on directly or indirectly to the head or the body that shakes the brain within the skull.  

Did You Know?

  • In 2012, 76% of concussions that were reported to have occurred at a sport or athletics area in Windsor-Essex occurred to those aged 10 to 19 (Intellihealth Ontario, MOHLTC, data extracted October 2014).
  • You may not lose consciousness but still have a concussion.
  • A concussion is an injury that can impact how you sleep, think, and remember things.
  • Someone with a suspected concussion should not be left alone or drive.
  • You should never return to work, school, sports, or recreational activities if you have any signs or symptoms of a concussion.

Why is it Important to Understand Concussions?

If you suspect you or someone you know may have a concussion, medical attention should be sought right away. Concussions need to be identified and properly managed to avoid permanent brain damage. It’s very dangerous, even fatal for someone to receive a second concussion if they have not properly recovered from the first concussion.

How are Concussions Identified and Properly Managed?

The Pocket Concussion Recognition Tool™ is a useful guide to help you identify a concussion. It can help guide you to the proper medical care.  The list below is only a partial list of symptoms that can be experienced on their own or together. Each concussion is different and will require an individualized plan led by a medical professional. The use of a symptom checklist can help your objectivity before, during the recovery phase, and after a concussion. If you had a concussion, these symptoms may be present and they need to be monitored to confirm they are gone before you return to normal activities.

Symptoms of a Concussion Checklist:

  • Headache or feeling pressure in the head
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Lack of coordination
  • Trouble with balance
  • Problems with movement and ability to sense things
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Memory and concentration problems
  • Sleep problems
  • Visual problems (i.e., sensitivity to light, seeing bright lights, blurred or double vision)

Concussions and Children

There are a variety of resources that can help you build a better understanding of concussions in children, such as the Guidelines for Diagnosing and Managing Pediatric Concussion. Children’s symptoms are often different from those of an adult, so it’s important to use an age-appropriate symptom checklist for identifying a concussion. Some available tools are the Child-SCAT3™, for children between the ages of 5 to 12, and the SCAT3™ for those 13 and above. The Mild Traumatic Brain Injury/Concussion fact sheet provides details specific to infants and toddlers.

When managing a child’s concussion, it’s very important they have 24-hours of mental and physical rest to start their recovery. A child or teen will need help from their parents and teachers in order to return to a normal routine. Younger athletes should go through the Return to Learn stages before they go on to the Return to Play steps. The Concussion Management Return to School Guidelines for Children and Youth resource can help you go through the five stages.

Returning to Play

Physical and mental rest is the first and most important step to recover from a concussion for people of all ages. Your health care professional can guide you through the process. Remember, during all the steps it’s key to monitor symptoms.

Usually there are six steps that are a part of the Return to Play protocol:

  1. No activity, only complete rest for 24 hours.
  2. Light aerobic exercise (i.e., walking, stationary cycling).
  3. Sport specific activities (i.e., skating, throwing).
  4. Begin drills without body contact (i.e., dribbling around cones).
  5. Begin drills with body contact.
  6. Game play.

Often teams and coaches need a note from a health care provider before you can return to play.  It can take about a week or longer to be ready to get back into the game. While working through the stages, if any signs or symptoms return you may need to go back to the level below until you are symptom free.

Sport Concussions in Your Community

Being physically active is a vital part to living a healthy lifestyle. Being active through sports not only provides health benefits, but can help you be active for life. Talk with the sport organizations you’re involved with to get details about their policies and practices around concussions. There are also a variety of resources available online. 

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