by Courtney Gittins

Concussions are mild traumatic brain injuries that affect over 200,000 athletes each year.

Concussion comes from the Latin word concusses, and means ‘to shake violently’. They occur when a force causes the brain to shake while inside the skull. It is caused by either a direct blow or blow to the body that forces the head to move very quickly.

Concussions temporarily impair or alter how the brain functions and processes certain information. The symptoms of a concussion are not always immediate and can be delayed for several days after the injury has occurred.

Certain athletes have a higher chance of getting a concussion than others. If you partake in a high contact sport such as football, ice hockey, soccer, or lacrosse, you are at a higher risk. However, concussions can occur in any sport or recreational activity. They can affect athletes of all ages. It is extremely important for younger athletes to be aware of their symptoms and get the proper treatment. The younger you are, the longer it takes your brain to heal from the concussion. Most athletes make a full recovery and on average, recover in 7-10 days. Once an athlete gets a concussion they are 3-5 times more likely to get more. Repeat concussions can lead to unfortunate long-term consequences.

The severity of the concussion is typically determined by:

  • How the injury occurred
  • How severe the force was
  • Did the concussed lose consciousness or have any for of memory loss after the contact.

Most athletes are fairly unsteady for several days following the blow.

Cognitive and Diagnostic Testing may be performed by a physician following a concussion.  Cognitive testing is used to see how brain operates after injury. Baseline testing is performed on athlete’s prior to the beginning of the season to get each athlete’s pre-concussed cognitive levels. After injury, the athlete will take the same test and the difference in their score can determine if they are concussed. Imaging Test: MRI & CT scans may be ordered by your physician.  A neuropsychological assessment and balance assessment may also be performed.


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