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Recognizing Concussions and How to Take Action

Does it seem to you that more people are getting concussions these days? That is probably not true. In fact, with safety measures, people are probably experiencing fewer concussions than before. However, we have become increasingly aware of the danger of concussions. While they used to be dismissed as minor injuries, we are recognizing concussions as the traumatic severe brain injuries (TBIs) they are.

A concussion is a TBI that occurs because you hit your head or you hit your body hard enough to make your brain hit the inside of your skull. Concussions can be severe or mild, but even mild concussions can have lifelong consequences. Furthermore, the damage from concussions appears to be cumulative. So, the more concussions someone experiences in a lifetime, the more likely they are to experience permanent brain damage. Some activities that can cause concussions include contact sports like football or boxing, skiing, snowboarding, car accidents, slips and falls, and more.

Teenagers are at the highest risk of concussion because they are more active than other age groups. Plus, more teenagers play football, a very high-risk activity, than any other age group. Older adults, toddlers, and anyone with a fall risk also have an elevated risk of concussion. Concussions are particularly alarming in children because their brains are still growing.

Any concussion should be treated like a severe brain injury. That means getting immediate medical attention at a qualified medical center. If someone has a concussion, they should get emergency care to deal with the direct results of the trauma. Afterward, they may need additional supportive care, ranging from surgeries to relieve brain swelling to physical therapy to help regain function.

Finally, if you are a parent, you must consider the risk of brain injury. While kids can get concussions in almost any activity, some sports are much higher risk. You need to weigh the potential benefits of that activity against the lifelong risk of serious harm that can come with repetitive concussions as well as learn the important steps to recognizing them. Consider steering your kids away from contact sports and focusing on non-contact sports. If you choose contact sports, look for leagues with progressive concussion policies and avoid teams that do not require immediate medical attention for suspected concussions.

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