Concussions

A concussion is a type of brain injury caused by a hit to the head or strong shaking of the head and body. It can happen in sports, car accidents, or falls and can be quite serious. In 2014, there were about 2.5 million visits to the emergency room, hospitalizations, or deaths due to brain injuries, including concussions, in the United States. Falls were the most common cause, especially for older people.

Concussions also happen in sports, with about 16% of all high school sports injuries being concussions in 2017 - 2018. It's essential to get quick medical help when a concussion occurs. TotalCare in North Texas offer 24/7 emergency care with shorter waiting times than hospital based ERs, making it easier for people to get the help they need for concussions and other injuries. This helps improve the chances of a better recovery
ER in Garland TX

Understanding Concussions

A concussion is a form of mild traumatic brain injury (TBI) that temporarily disrupts the normal functioning of the brain. This disruption occurs when a forceful impact or sudden movement causes the brain to move within the skull, often leading to chemical changes in the brain and sometimes stretching and damaging brain cells.

Unlike more severe forms of traumatic brain injury, the structural integrity of the brain remains intact in concussions, but the functional disturbances lead to a variety of symptoms that can impact daily life.

The causes of concussions are diverse but not limited to:

  • Sports Injuries: Concussions are common in contact sports such as football, hockey, and soccer. Athletes are particularly at risk due to the high-velocity nature of these activities.
  • Vehicular Accidents: The sudden deceleration or acceleration in car accidents can cause the occupants’ heads to move violently, leading to concussions.
  • Workplace Accidents: Falling objects, slips, and falls or other types of impacts at the workplace can result in concussions.
  • Falls: Particularly common among the elderly and young children, falls can cause a sudden impact to the head leading to a concussion.
  • Physical Assaults: Incidents of violence where an individual receives a blow to the head can also result in a concussion.

Concussion Symptoms

Symptoms after a concussion can be different for everyone, both in what they feel and how bad they are. Let’s look at the usual and not-so-usual symptoms of concussions:

  • Headache: Headaches are the most common symptom following a concussion. The headaches may feel like “pressure” in the head, and are often persistent.
  • Confusion: Individuals might feel disoriented or have difficulty remembering events surrounding the injury.
  • Dizziness: A sense of spinning or loss of balance is common.
  • Nausea or Vomiting: Some individuals might feel nauseous or may vomit post injury.
  • Sensitivity to Light and Noise: Individuals may find bright lights or loud noises uncomfortable or painful.

Symptoms of concussion can vary in different groups, like children, older adults, or people with existing health problems. In kids, you might notice things like constant crying, changes in eating or sleeping habits, or losing interest in things they usually enjoy. Older folks might see their existing health issues get worse or have a higher chance of complications from a concussion.

These diverse symptoms show why it’s crucial to get a medical checkup after any accident that might lead to a concussion. This helps make sure the right diagnosis is made and the right care plan is started to prevent more problems or additional injuries.

The Importance of Prompt Medical Attention for Concussion

The immediate aftermath of a concussion is a critical period, making prompt medical attention essential. Even if a concussion is considered mild, it’s a serious injury that requires proper medical evaluation and management to prevent potential complications. Here are key aspects emphasizing the importance of prompt medical attention following a concussion:

Prevention of Secondary Injuries

After a concussion, the brain is in a vulnerable state and more susceptible to further damage. Secondary injuries can occur if another impact to the head happens before the brain has had a chance to heal. These subsequent injuries can exacerbate the symptoms and prolong the recovery period.

Accurate Diagnosis

A thorough examination by a healthcare professional can help accurately diagnose a concussion and rule out more severe brain injuries like a brain bleed, which could be life-threatening. Diagnostic tests such as CT scans or MRI can be utilized to assess the extent of the injury.

Individualized Treatment Plan

Once a concussion is diagnosed, an individualized treatment plan can be developed. This plan may include rest, medication for symptom relief, and a graduated return to normal activities under medical supervision to ensure a safe and speedy recovery.

Monitoring of Symptoms

Continuous monitoring of symptoms by healthcare professionals can help track the recovery process and adjust the treatment plan as needed. Sometimes, symptoms may worsen, or new symptoms may emerge, requiring modifications in the treatment approach.

Prevention of Long-term Complications

Early intervention can help prevent long-term complications such as post-concussion syndrome, which involves persistent symptoms like headaches and dizziness that last for weeks or even months after the injury. There’s some evidence suggesting repeated concussions to chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a progressive degenerative disease of the brain. Prompt medical care can help manage symptoms and provide guidance on when it’s safe to return to regular activities, reducing the risk of future concussions.

Educational and Community Outreach

TotalCare’s partnerships with local schools and universities underscore the importance of community education regarding concussions. Through sponsoring events like the C-USA basketball tournament and collaborating with institutions like the University of Texas in Arlington and DeSoto high school athletics, TotalCare aims to foster a culture of awareness and prompt medical attention for concussions. These partnerships also provide a platform for TotalCare to offer its comprehensive emergency care services, ensuring that individuals have access to prompt and effective medical attention when facing a concussion.

Legal and Occupational Implications

In some cases, there may be legal or occupational implications following a concussion, especially if it occurred during a work-related incident or a vehicular accident. Prompt medical attention ensures that the injury is properly documented, which can be crucial for insurance claims or other legal proceedings.

TotalCare ERs, with their fully equipped facilities and 24/7 availability, stand as a reliable healthcare partner in North Texas, dedicated to providing prompt and comprehensive care for concussion patients.

When to Visit the ER for Concussions

Recognizing when to seek emergency medical care for a concussion is paramount as timely intervention can significantly improve the outcome and reduce the risk of long-term complications. Let’s go over important signs and reasons why you should head to the emergency room if you think you have a concussion:

  • Loss of Consciousness: Even a brief loss of consciousness following a blow to the head is a clear sign that medical evaluation is required.
  • Seizures: Seizures or convulsions are serious symptoms that require immediate medical attention.
  • Severe Headache: A headache that intensifies or does not improve requires medical evaluation.
  • Weakness, Numbness, or Decreased Coordination: These symptoms could indicate more severe brain or spinal injuries.
  • Vomiting: Vomiting can be a sign of increased intracranial pressure, necessitating urgent medical attention.

Symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, confusion, or any other symptom associated with concussions that persist or worsen over time should prompt a visit to the ER.

Young children and the elderly are more vulnerable to the effects of a concussion and may require medical attention even if the symptoms are mild.

Previous Head Injuries or Other Medical Conditions

Individuals with a history of previous head injuries, neurological conditions, or other pre-existing medical conditions may be at a higher risk for complications following a concussion. Individuals on blood-thinning medication or with clotting disorders are at an increased risk of bleeding following a head injury, necessitating an ER visit.

Symptoms may not manifest immediately but may appear hours to days after the injury. Any delayed symptoms should be evaluated by a healthcare professional; if you notice the following after the fact, a trip to the ER is needed:

Difficulty thinking clearly, trouble remembering new information, or feeling slowed down are signs of deteriorating cognitive function which require medical attention.

Blurred vision, seeing double, or experiencing unusual visual phenomena require medical evaluation.

Changes in behavior, increased irritability, or appearing dazed or stunned are also indicators for medical evaluation.

What to Expect in the ER for a Concussion

Going to the emergency room after you think you have a concussion is crucial for getting the right diagnosis and care. TotalCare’s expert staff will attend to you promptly, and perform an evaluation to help determine the risk of immediate and long term injury. They will perform a neurological examination and may consider imaging, such as CT scan (Computed Tomography) if there is any suspicion for skull fracture or bleeding in the brain.

TotalCare is fully prepared to provide monitoring for the progression of symptoms and ensure there isn’t any worsening of the condition. During that time, you will receive pain management and nausea management as required to make you more comfortable. 

Before discharge from the emergency room for a concussion, medical staff will provide you with information on how to manage your concussion, what symptoms to watch out for, and when to seek additional medical help. They may also arrange follow-up appointments with a healthcare provider or specialists like neurologists to ensure you receive ongoing care.

If necessary, referrals to specialists such as physical therapists or occupational therapists might be made for further evaluation and treatment. All findings, diagnoses, treatments, and recommendations will be documented for future reference and to share with other healthcare providers as needed.

Concussion Treatment and Recovery

Recovery from a concussion is a personal journey that can take different amounts of time, depending on how severe the injury is and the person’s overall health. Let’s take a closer look at what’s involved in treating and recovering from a concussion:

  • Medical Monitoring: Regular follow-up appointments with healthcare providers to monitor the progress of recovery and manage any ongoing symptoms.
  • Neurocognitive Testing: These tests can help evaluate cognitive function and track improvements over time.
  • Physical Therapy: Engaging in physical therapy can help improve balance, coordination, and strength, which might be affected post-concussion.
  • Occupational Therapy: This form of therapy helps individuals return to daily activities and may provide strategies to manage ongoing symptoms.
  • Cognitive Therapy: For individuals experiencing memory problems or other cognitive difficulties, cognitive therapy can be beneficial.
  • Education: Education about the recovery process, potential challenges, and strategies to cope with symptoms is essential for both patients and their families.
  • Support Groups: Engaging with support groups can provide a platform to share experiences, learn from others, and obtain additional resources.
  • Nutritional Support: A balanced diet and certain nutritional supplements may support brain health and recovery.
  • Mental Health Care: Addressing emotional symptoms like irritability, anxiety, or depression, which are common post-concussion, with the help of mental health professionals.
  • Long-term Monitoring: Some symptoms may last for an extended period, requiring long-term monitoring and management.
  • Research on New Treatments: Staying updated on new treatments or interventions through reputable sources or healthcare providers can be beneficial.

Preventing Future Concussions

Preventing future concussions is vital for protecting your long-term brain health and reducing the chance of chronic neurological problems. Let’s take a closer look at some things you can do to prevent concussions:

  • Education: Participating in educational programs that provide information about the risks and prevention of concussions is crucial for understanding the importance of prevention.
  • Helmets, Mouth Guards, and Pads: Wearing a properly fitted helmet, mouth guards, and pads, during sports activities, biking, and other potentially hazardous activities can significantly reduce the risk of head injuries. Using advancements in protective gear and equipment designed to prevent concussions can be beneficial.
  • Fall Prevention: Ensuring that homes and workplaces are free from tripping hazards can help prevent falls, a common cause of concussions. Improving balance and coordination through training can also help prevent falls and other injuries.
  • Safe Playgrounds: Making sure that playgrounds have soft material under the equipment can help cushion falls.
  • Proper Lighting: Adequate lighting in all areas can help prevent accidents that might lead to a concussion.
  • Traffic Safety: Observing traffic rules and driving safely can prevent vehicular accidents, a common cause of concussions.
  • Sports Regulations: Adhering to sports safety rules and regulations can help minimize the risk of injuries leading to concussions.
  • Workplace Safety Protocols: Following safety protocols in the workplace can prevent accidents that might cause concussions.
  • Physical Fitness: Maintaining a good level of physical fitness can help prevent falls and other accidents.
  • Vision Tests and Medical Check-ups: Regular vision tests can ensure that poor vision does not contribute to falls or other accidents. Check-ups can identify and address medical conditions that might increase the risk of falls or other accidents.

Experience Concussion Care Beyond Compare with TotalCare

Dealing with concussions is a serious matter. It involves understanding what they are, getting quick medical help, receiving proper treatment, and recovering well. This process needs medical care, knowing what to do, support from your community, and taking steps to prevent future concussions.

Getting medical help early, like going to TotalCare, is essential. They can diagnose and treat concussions properly. Working with schools and communities helps spread the word about concussions and the importance of quick care.

This discussion gives people a clear plan for dealing with concussions, getting better, and avoiding more injuries. Education is key, and research and community involvement also play important roles. Visiting TotalCare when you have a concussion ensures you get the right care for a good recovery. All of this makes for a healthier community, even after concussions.