June 1, 2017
People are more likely to seek medical help when they have an injury they can feel or see. However, a concussion may not fall into either of those categories and yet deserve as much, if not more, care and attention.
A concussion is a disruption of normal brain activity caused by a bump to the head or jolt to the brain. It may or may not involve the loss of consciousness. A concussion is not easy to diagnose because the injury may not show up on an MRI, CT or other scan.
Be aware of any sudden changes in:
- Physical abilities – ex. co-ordination, dizziness, balance issues, nausea
- Thinking – ex. slurred speech, confusion
- Emotions – ex. unexpected, uncontrolled anger or sadness or elation
- Sleep patterns – ex. unexplained fatigue or inability to sleep
Seek medical attention immediately if you notice these signs in yourself or someone who has recently had a trauma. Concussion signs and symptoms may not arise until 24-48 hours after the initial injury.
Like an injury to another body part, your brain requires rest to recover. Because the brain is the epicenter of everything you do, it requires not only physical rest (sleep, no or limited exercise) but also mental rest which includes limiting exposure to sound, light, and cognitive functions (as you may incur at work or school), and social situations that may be overwhelming. As challenging as this may be for some people, it also includes avoiding or limiting screen time. TVs, computers, and cell phones should be off limits for a while.
Recovery can take a few days or many months and can vary by individual depending on the severity of the concussion, prior traumas, overall health, and how you approach recovery.
To allow your body more resources to heal the brain, follow these tips:
Prioritize: Do only what is necessary and put off major projects until you are healthy
Plan: Schedule cognitively demanding tasks for when you are more rested
Pace Yourself: Taking on too much too soon may prolong recovery
Position Yourself: Create an environment that promotes healing – ex. no distractions, limited noise and harsh lighting
Ease back into activities both cognitively and physically. Avoid being in a position that may risk another head injury – such as playing contact sports – until you are fully healed.
Involve your family, medical practitioners, educators and/or employers in your recovery so they can help monitor your progress and make accommodations as necessary.
Remember to take precautions to avoid a concussion in the first place such as wearing the appropriate safety gear when participating in sports and other activities.
Your brain controls everything you do so everything you do should be to protect it.
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