Health Class: Concussed

Julianna French
jfrench@css.edu

What do rugby players, football players, soccer players, and klutzes have in common? Their lifestyles eventually lead to concussions. That’s because these groups tend to hit their heads more often which leads to an increased risk for concussions. A concussion is caused by a blow to the head or even an impact to the body itself which then causes the brain to be jostled within the skull. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) refers to a concussion as a type of brain injury that can impair normal brain function. Since people generally like to have their brain functioning as it normally does, and since it’s not always easy to tell if you have a concussion, I’ve put together some of the common signs and symptoms in one easy column.

The symptoms of concussions can be put into four categories based on how they affect you: cognitive, emotional, physical, and sleep schedule. Cognitive symptoms affect the way you think or remember. If you suddenly find it harder to concentrate, think, or remember things more than usual, you may have a concussion. Concussions can affect you emotionally by causing you to be more irritable, sad, and/or nervous. Physically, you may find yourself suffering from headaches or migraines, feel off balance, suffer from fuzzy vision, and feel tired. Lastly it can affect your sleep schedule by causing you to sleep more or less than usual. This last one can be hard to gauge unless you’re already on a normal sleep schedule.

Speaking of sleep, many believe that if a person has a concussion, they should avoid sleep, because they risk going into a coma. Well that’s not exactly true. The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, among other groups, has done research into concussions and can confirm that sleep is actually a good thing for the brain. It allows the brain to be able to spend time healing itself without being assaulted by outside stimuli. Unless your pupils are dilated, you have trouble holding a conversation, or walking then it’s safe to sleep.

On the bright side, symptoms of concussions tend to only last between a few days and a few months depending on the severity of the concussion. During this period of recovery you should avoid all forms of contact sports or any instances where you may hit or jostle your head again. That definitely will not help with the healing process. There are things you can do that would help the healing process, according the CDC. Try to get as much sleep as possible at night, and take naps throughout the day. It’s while at rest that your brain is able to devote the most energy to recovery. Avoid activities that are physically demanding or require a lot of concentration. These can not only worsen your symptoms, but cause them to last longer. This includes work, school, television, reading, and etcetera. Lastly, try to avoid alcohol.

I know, you’re young and things like alcohol, Netflix, and physical activity seem fun to you. You’re still at that age where you feel like nothing, not even a brain injury, can affect you because you’re invincible. You’re wrong. Don’t mess around with concussions because you can cause permanent damage. Did anyone watch that football movie with Will Smith? Just because you’re young, doesn’t mean nothing can hurt you. Class dismissed