Editor’s Note: Dr. Kevin Prue of Prue Physical Therapy & Sports Performance in Cary shares some important information about concussions – just in time for the fall sports season.
Cary, NC — Concussions have been a hot topic in the sports medicine community for the last few years. However, I’ve learned there are still a lot of misconceptions about concussions.
What is a Concussion?
A concussion is considered a traumatic brain injury. Any force of trauma to the neck and head can lead to a concussion and should be evaluated by a professional.
A concussion injury can impact the way the brain functions, usually for a temporary period of time, but, if it’s not addressed appropriately, a concussion can lead to long term issues. A concussion can present itself in many different ways, but here are some common symptoms:
- Difficulty concentrating
- Memory loss
- Balance and coordination deficits
- Sensitivity to sound and light
- Loss of consciousness
- Ringing in the ears
- Delayed response to questions
Some symptoms may be harder to detect than others, while some individuals may not display any signs or symptoms of a concussion, even though they have suffered from one. These symptoms can linger for days, weeks, months or even longer.
Can You Sleep After a Concussion?
Concussion management used to include preventing individuals from falling asleep.
It was thought that if you had a concussion and you fell asleep, there was a good chance you could slip into a coma. What we now know is that sleeping – or reducing stimulation and allowing the brain to rest and recover – is extremely important in the early stages of recovery. This also includes limiting physical exertion, as exercise can enhance concussion symptoms.
Think You Have a Concussion?
If you think you or someone you know may have had a concussion, you should seek medical care for diagnosis and advice on proper care. Look for an expert in concussion management to help guide you along the way. If a youth athlete is suspected of having a concussion, they should be immediately removed from competition and evaluated by a professional.
Even if you’ve been evaluated by a professional, continue to monitor the situation for any worsening symptoms, and, when in doubt, don’t be afraid to go back for a re-evaluation.
Managing a concussion can be a long and frustrating process, but it is important that you take the right steps early on to minimize discomfort and reduce long-term effects. A full recovery from a concussion means you have both no symptoms at rest and no symptoms with activity.
Big Take-Home Message
Remember, if you think you have a concussion, you should seek medical care promptly.
Athletes who possibly sustained a concussion should be removed from competition immediately and should not return unless cleared by an appropriate medical professional. If you are diagnosed with a concussion, reduce screen time (TV, cellphones and computers) and mental stimulation as much as possible to allow the body and brain to rest and recover.
Just because you have no symptoms at rest doesn’t mean you have fully recovered. A physical therapist or other medical professional should monitor your symptoms at gradual increases in exercise intensity to ensure an individual has fully recovered.
About the Author
Dr. Kevin Prue PT, DPT, CSCS is a graduate of Duke University’s Doctor of Physical Therapy Program. He is the president and director of Prue Physical Therapy & Sports Performance located in Cary. He specializes in sports and orthopedic physical therapy, sports performance training and injury prevention for youth and recreational athletes.