First rule of concussion?
....always assume that there could be a concussion!!!!
If you are active, there is always a small risk of injury (much less risky than not being active at all) and unfortunately concussion is one of those injuries that can occur.
It's important to know that....
How do we recognise a concussion?
Head impacts can be associated with serious and potentially fatal brain injuries. It is vital to seek medical attention if someone has received a force or trauma to the head, to ensure that they are assessed for potential concussion.
All trained Sports Trainers and most sporting Health Professionals are familiar with the tools for concussion recognition - it is the standard currently to use the "Concussion Recognition Tool 5" produced by the British Journal of Sports Medicine. You can also do an online version, Scat5 Online that is easy to use on a tablet or phone.
If you are a parent, or work with children, the Murdoch Children's Research Institute in conjunction with the AFL has created an App called Headcheck. This is a concussion recognition and symptom tracking App to assist parents, First-aiders, trainers and coaches to recognise and manage recovery of concussion in kids. It is based on research, and also helps add to our current understanding of concussion by collecting data.
The Concussion Recognition Tool 5, and Headcheck can be used BY ANYONE, and run through:
immediate Red Flag screening (and when to go to a health professional or call an ambulance)
observations (what the person looks like after the head knock and how they are behaving)
Common symptoms of concussion (and it is a HUGE list)
A quick Memory Test
These checks should be done
AS SOON AS YOU ARE AWARE OF A HEAD KNOCK!!
If you don't find out about the head knock until later, you should still do the tests. The symptoms can also be LATENT, which means they come on hours, if not days later, so just because they feel "fine", doesn't mean they might not test positive - remember, it is possible and even common for people not to know they have a concussion.
ALWAYS ASSUME that the concussion is possible.
If someone does have a suspected concussion, they MUST be assessed further - this can ONLY be done by a licensed Health Professional. Physiotherapist are among those able to complete this assessment, or attend your local Emergency Department.
They must also commence IMMEDIATE REST for 24 HOURS.
Finally, we need to bust a few myths. LOTS AND LOTS of research has shown....
There are currently no forms of external protection (ie helmets, head gear, head guards) that can prevent a concussion, but we do know that Neck Strengthening (particularly for females) might help. So if you'd like more information on that (or to have a look at the research yourself) then give us a call.
We are also getting better at managing concussion, and physiotherapy can be valuable to rehabilitate concussed players back to school, work and sport more quickly (see our Blog on the topic here). So again, if you think you have had a concussion, or think you might still be suffering from one, please give us a call!
Move Well, Stay Well.