Many of us hear about concussions daily and probably see something about them on the national news. While concussions can be scary, it doesn’t mean we should wrap ourselves in bubble wrap and just sit on the couch.
What is a concussion?
A concussion is a traumatic brain injury. It occurs when the brain strikes the inside of the skull.
It’s important to:
• Beware of the danger of concussions
• Know the symptoms
• Understand they can happen to anyone
• We can make sure football and hockey players have up-to-date helmets and that our athletes/ children are learning proper hitting and tackling techniques.
• We can educate coaches, parents and athletes about concussions, their symptoms and the importance of early diagnosis.
Who can get a concussion?
While concussions are most likely to happen in contact sports, it’s important to remember that anyone can get a concussion. In Minnesota, it isn’t unheard of that someone gets a concussion from slipping on the ice and hitting their head on the ground.
Any blow to the head, some of which can seem harmless can cause a concussion.
- falling off a ladder
- falling in the bathtub
- tripping on a rug
While anyone can get a concussion, it’s important to remember that no concussion is the same. People react differently and there’s no set timeline saying how long a concussion will last.
• Plenty of rest
• Limit participation in sports, playing video games, watching TV or socializing excessively
• Develop a “Return to Normal Activities” plan after acute symptoms improve
• Follow recommendations of healthcare professionals
Symptoms of a concussion can sometimes be difficult to detect so if you think you may have suffered a concussion, let your doctor know right away. The best way to treat a concussion is to rest your brain. If you return to normal activities too soon and your symptoms return, your brain is letting you know it is still injured and needs a break. By not letting your brain heal completely, you are putting yourself at risk for long term brain injury and increasing your risk for future concussions. Bottom line: Don’t “play through the pain” as this may have serious long-term consequences.
About the Author: Dylan Folkestad, MD, is a Family Medicine Physician at our Henning Clinic. He received his Doctor of Medicine Degree from the University of Minnesota and completed his resident at HealthEast’s St. John’s Hospital in Maplewood, MN. Dr. Folkestad lives near Miltona with his wife and two children. In his free time, he enjoys the outdoors and helping with his family farm located near Bertha, MN.