1 888 737 9990
Whack! You’ve had a sudden knock to the head and suddenly you find yourself in pain and in a fog. A trip to the emergency room and a few doctor visits later and it’s confirmed: you have a concussion or a mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI). Whether you got it playing a contact sport, whiplash from a car crash, or falling on a slippery sidewalk, dealing with a concussion can be an ordeal. But with proper diagnosis and treatment, you can recover and get back to your regular routine.
Concussions are usually caused by a direct or indirect hit to the head. This trauma leads to internal bleeding, bruising, fluid build-up, tissue damage, or increased pressure on your brain. Some concussions can lead to cognitive, physical, or emotional problems. You may find it hard to concentrate or feel in a fog. You may experience headaches, tiredness, dizziness, and memory loss. The symptoms will vary according to your specific injury and so too will the treatment. That’s why the first thing to do is to seek immediate medical help. An early diagnosis and treatment plan can optimize your recovery.
A concussion can have serious repercussions in the short and long term. This is why any concussion should be taken seriously. It’s also why so much attention is given to athletes who have suffered a concussion. From professional leagues to school teams, athletes, coaches, teachers, parents, and the general public take concussions much more seriously than in the past. You should, too.
The first step is to seek and follow medical advice. That means slowing things down, resting, and taking it easy for a bit. Returning too quickly to your regular activity can prolong or worsen your symptoms.
Research on concussions is evolving and we learn more and more with each breakthrough. Aside from following doctor’s orders, here are some things you can do improve your recovery:
You should also discuss your concussion with your family and employer. You’re going to have to rely on loved ones for physical and emotional support and most employers offer programs, benefits, or allowances to help with employees who have been injured. Talk to them and get the help you need to ensure a full recovery.
If you or someone you know has suffered a serious head injury as a result of a crash, accident, or someone’s negligence, you have rights. Contact us today to discuss how our team can help you get on the path to recovery.
You’re in the stands cheering on your kid as he or she is playing their favourite sport, when suddenly, they take a hard hit to the head. You panic, rush to the sidelines, and make sure they are alright.
Checking for signs of a possible concussion, you and the coach agree to remove your child from the game and you head straight to the doctor.
Well done! The first step is to always take a significant hit to the head seriously. Here are some of the symptoms to watch for:
Most symptoms show up within minutes or hours, but others may take longer to appear. Getting to the hospital is always the right thing to do.
But what happens after the doctor confirms a concussion? What does the road to recovery look like and what should you do as a parent?
While each concussion is different, medical experts pinpoint early detection and brain rest as the first steps to helping concussed kids recover more completely. At their young ages, the brain is still developing and improper diagnosis, treatment, or too quick of a return to normal activity may lead to long-term problems.
Pediatric neurologists say that at minimum, two or three days of rest can help with such blows to the brain. That doesn’t just mean no sports or running around, but also no electronic devices, school work, video games, and anything else that can challenge or stress the brain.
A hard hit needs to be taken seriously. In Canada, 39% of all kids between 10 and 18 who visited an emergency facility following a sports-related head injuries were diagnosed with a concussion, while another 24% showed signs of possible concussion. Three sports in particular – football, soccer, and hockey – show a greater increase in reported head injuries in the decade between 2004 and 2014. Of course, sports are not the only cause of a concussion: falls, car crashes, and other whacks to the head can also cause a concussion. But no matter the cause of the injury, your focus needs to be on treatment and recovery.
There’s good news, though! Medical researchers in Nebraska found that 80 to 90% of sport concussions resolve in two to three weeks. This is if the child has been treated and follows medical advice. Doing so can also help prevent more serious brain injuries at a time when the child is vulnerable to other jolts to the head. If the problem persists beyond that point, another trip to the doctor is in order.
Catching a concussion early, preventing further activity, and seeking immediate medical attention are all helpful steps to healthy attitudes and healthy kids.
Concussions are mysterious to many of us but medical science is getting better at understanding how to test, treat, and aid recovery from them. Here are three recent breakthroughs you should know about – two of them from right here in Canada.
New blood test for concussions
A Canadian team of researchers have made a major discovery in how to identify and diagnose patients with a concussion. The answer may be in your blood. The team has found a blood test that they claim has a 90 per cent rate of accuracy.
Currently, concussions are diagnosed by medical imaging technology or a complex list of observations and physical tests. A blood test, though, would simplify the process and enable medical professionals to diagnose and treat concussions faster.
The blood test measures metabolite levels in the blood. These leave chemical fingerprints that can tell what’s happening in the brain. While it’s not the first time researchers have looked to blood tests to try and diagnose concussions, this is one of the most promising findings for early detection.
Blood protein a measure of severity
If you’ve ever had a concussion, you know it can be both a painful and confusing experience with a long and unpredictable recovery ahead. Researchers in New York State have discovered that, once again, our blood can help determine the severity of the concussion with a view to predicting recovery time.
In a study of concussed athletes, they discovered that a higher level of the brain protein tau in the blood can lead to a longer recovery period. Tau is a protein found in the human body and is linked to brain cell damage. Higher levels in the blood indicate a more severe injury.
In the test group, the athletes with high levels took longer than 10 days to return to play while those with less got back sooner. While more research is needed, the results have researchers hopeful that measuring tau proteins in the blood can help with diagnosing the severity of a concussion and predicting a patient’s recovery time.
Light exercise can help recovery in kids
Another Canadian team has found light exercise may help some concussed kids recover faster. Resting and slowing down have been common treatments for concussions, but researchers in Ottawa have found that light physical activity can help mend some young brains.
Looking at over 3000 youngsters ages 5 to 18 who were treated for concussions, the team found that those who did some light physical activity in the first week after their injury saw faster improvements than those who did not. For those restricted to bed rest, nearly half (44%) continued to show symptoms a month later, while a quarter of those who were out doing light walks, swimming, or stationary cycling reported fewer lingering symptoms in the same time frame.
Certainly, if a child has suffered a concussion as a result of a sporting activity, he or she should be pulled from play, but it is promising to see the positive impact of light exercise on their recovery.
After a nice long bike ride, you pop into a café to grab a quick coffee. You lock your bike, order a latte, and head back outside. Your bike is gone! Someone has cut your lock and stolen your wheels.
Bike theft is a big problem in Vancouver. Police say on average nine bikes are stolen each day in the city. Most are stolen in the summer months. One of the worst areas in the city for bike theft is one of our most popular attractions: Granville Island. Shop owners have decided to fight back with Operation Rudy. The program includes offering free valet bike parking service with some shop owners loaning out high-end locks to bike visitors.
No matter where you bike, there are things you can do to secure your bike. The most critical thing is using a good lock. Thieves operate on speed and stealth. Locks slow them down. Make sure you have a strong lock and that you are using it the right way. Here are a few pointers:
But don’t put all of your faith in your lock. They can fail. So put your name on your bike to deter thieves as it will make it harder to quickly sell the bike and will also decrease its value. Take a picture of your bike and record the serial number. And register your bike with Project 529, as recommended by the Vancouver Police Department.
Ryan Donaldson was only 17 when he took his own life after dealing with a series of sports-related concussions. Ryan was a high level hockey player who was drafted by the Kelowna Rockets in the fifth round of the 2011 WHL bantum draft. According to the Langley Times, he was the top player taken in that draft playing a pair of games for the major junior team in the 2011/12 season as an under-age player.
Ryan suffered three major concussions which required hospitalization. Doug, Ryan’s father, said Ryan wasn’t the same kid after the brain injuries. He became very irritable and almost anything would set him off. Ryan’s sister Kirsten noticed he was staying up all night and sleeping during the day.
The family knew Ryan was suffering, but every time they approached him to see if he wanted help, Ryan declined
“When you talked to him, all off a sudden, there would be a glaze,” Doug said. “He would just shut right off and he wasn’t doing it on purpose. You would have to snap him out of it.”
The days leading to his suicide, Ryan kept to himself in his bedroom. The day he took his own life, he had texted a few people to see if they wanted to hang out. After he passed away, Ryan’s family found out he was living on Advil and Tylenol pills to alleviate headaches. He never discussed his headaches as he didn’t want to miss hockey.
“Looking back, I could see the signs and changes like moodiness, but just chalked it up to being teenaged,” Doug said. “Trust us, if I knew then what I know now about concussions, I would have shut him down (from playing).” The family wants to let others know that it is OK to talk about depression.
A new study proves teenagers recovering from concussions or mild traumatic brain injuries may have difficulty with schoolwork until the brain fully recovers. Concussion can cause a wide range of difficulties in thinking and reasoning, including problems with memory, difficulties with language, and emotional imbalances.
239 students were medically evaluated one month after experiencing a concussion.
Of the students taking part in the study, those who had not yet recovered from their concussion reported experiencing a wide range of difficulties at school, including headaches, fatigue, and trouble concentrating. Almost ninety percent reported that their concussion symptoms were interfering with their life at school.
According to Jefferey Mjaanes, M.D., Director of the Chicago Sports Concussion Clinic, following proper concussion treatment guidelines can mean the difference between recovering in just weeks, or taking several months.
Concussions should never be ignored. Even minor head and brain trauma can create serious, lifelong complications. This is sadly illustrated by hockey superstar Sidney Crosby and his battle with multiple, career-killing concussions.
Crosby’s first reported concussion occurred during the Winter Classic in 2011. Four days later, Crosby received his second concussion when his head was driven into the boards during a game. He suffered severe concussion symptoms and was sidelined multiple times.
“Concussions are still kind of a mysterious thing. We do know a lot more now, but there are still things that we can learn and hopefully ways and methods we can learn to either heal or to find out more about the actual extent of the injuries,” Crosby said in The Globe and Mail.
Football players who lose consciousness after concussions are more likely to suffer from memory loss later in life according to a recent study conducted by retired NFL players.
“Our results do suggest that players with a history of concussion with a loss of consciousness may be at a greater risk for cognitive problems later in life,” says Munro Cullum, chief of neuropsychology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. According to a recent CBC article, “We are at the early stages of understanding who is actually at risk at the individual level.”
The study compared brain scans of 27 people who didn’t play college or pro football to 28 former NFL athletes. Participants ranged in age from 41 to 77 and were similar in age, education and mental capacity.
Researchers concluded football players were far more likely to suffer brain damage and cognitive impairment years after retirement. Players who had a concussion history paired with mild cognitive impairments got the lowest scores.
Keeping children and teens healthy and safe is always a top priority, especially when engaging in sports. The serious, cumulative, and long-lasting effects of concussions cannot be overstated.
Signs and symptoms of concussion can show up right after the injury or may not appear or be noticed until days or weeks after the injury. If an athlete reports one or more symptoms of concussion after a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or body, they should be kept out of play the day of the injury. It’s better to miss one game than the whole season due to complications and side effects of an unchecked concussion.
The best way to keep them safe is by educating those responsible for their well-being. If you live in the Vancouver area, we encourage you to join scientists and clinicians from UBC’s Faculty of Medicine as they discuss the latest science behind sport concussions. This session is tailored for parents, athletes, coaches, and teachers.
San Francisco 49ers linebacker Chris Borland is retiring early due to concussion concerns.
It’s not worth the risk Borland tells ESPN. According to the National Post, Borland said, “I don’t think it’s worth the risk. I’m concerned that if you wait till you have symptoms, it’s too late. There are a lot of unknowns. I can’t claim that X will happen. I just want to live a long healthy life, and I don’t want to have any neurological diseases or die younger than I would otherwise.”
Goodbye NFL stardom, hello… golf?
Here are a few facts from Wikipedia that put his difficult decision into perspective: