Understanding Concussion and Head Injuries
The word ‘concussion’ often creates an image of a football player subjected to a hard hit unsteadily walking to the sidelines. Head injuries are not limited to contact sports. Consider cheerleading, biking, a car accident or even falling from a ladder.
Concussions: The Invisible Injury
A concussion is a type of head trauma or brain injury caused by a blow or jolt to the head.
It can also result from a direct blow to the face, neck, or elsewhere on the body if the force of the impact is transmitted to the head.
Dr. Robert Mooney, STAT MED Clinical Director and Credentialed ImPACT Consultant often tells patients:
“Think of a concussion as bruising the brain which then limits its ability to function properly.”
However, unlike a leg injury from a fall where you typically can see the swelling or redness, the symptoms of a concussion, are not always apparent.
While you can’t see the “bruised brain,” but symptoms can manifest in headaches, sensitivity to light or noise, difficulty concentrating, memory loss, mood changes to feeling sluggish or ‘just not right’.
Step by Step Approach to Concussion Recovery
It is important to recognize a potential concussion but also understand available medical care.
Once symptoms are recognized by an athletic trainer, school nurse, friend or family member, the individual needs to be examined by a doctor trained in concussion care as soon as possible.
A head injury can be serious, and if not treated properly, may lead to longer term effects.
Following a clinical diagnosis, a plan of ‘brain rest’ will likely be prescribed which may include reduced physical activity, computer screen time, work or school to potentially additional medical care. And then safe and effective recovery requires completion of a step by step treatment approach based on severity of injury.
While there is a general path to recovery, each patient should expect a personalized plan since no two concussions are the same.
Return to Play, School or Work
Under California State Law regulations, a student athlete has to be cleared by a doctor before returning to play.
CIF directs progressive treatment and authorization to return to play by specific medical professionals such as a Credentialed ImPACT Consultant like STAT MED’s Dr. Mooney.
When an accommodation may be warranted for school work, class time or at a workplace, a similar process is followed by a medical professional to provide any needed authorization.