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Concussions - Everything you need to know to save a life

Concussions – Everything you need to know

Nobody likes to get hit on the head. It hurts. People instinctively cover their heads when they are in a threatening situation – but there are times when direct impact happens out of the blue.

A concussion is the result of severe head trauma and this can be caused by a collision when the head jerks back and forth rapidly. This is similar to whiplash and the brain gets literally beaten inside the skull.

Common incidents include a bump or a blow to the head during a fight, a fall off a bike or being laid low by a tackle on the sports field.

Getting ‘knocked out’

Not everyone loses consciousness when they are concussed. This only happens in about 10 % of all cases and when CT scans and MRIs are done, the images appear normal. Thus it is not always obvious whether a person has a concussion or not.

 A CHOC Childhood Cancer Foundation states that most people view a concussion as a sudden, once-off traumatic event. But, the condition is in fact due to a series of metabolic/biochemical changes in the brain that the trauma sets off.  

Directly after the injury, the brain cells may be cut off from energy and nutrient supply thereby hampering its work process. Impairment in brain function ensues. but these symptoms of impairment change when the brain cells undergo metabolic change and recovery.

Another line of injury concerns the skull. The hard bone of the skull protects the brain. The spinal fluid in turn cushions the brain inside the skull. With a hard knock against the skull, signals between the nerves undergo change.

Symptoms 

The symptoms of concussion are headache, blurred or double vision, dizziness, balance problems, experiencing a tingling sensation or trouble walking, confusion and saying things that don’t make sense, irritability, being slow to answer questions, repeating questions and sentences, slurred speech, nausea or vomiting, not remembering what happened and generally feeling out of sorts. This is only after a traumatic event, as these symptoms can be indicative of a range of conditions as well. 

Regardless of how the head injury occurred, the injured person must be prevented from driving or operating large machinery and should be removed from situations that endanger his/her life or the lives of others.

Depending on the severity of the injury, recovery can be anything from a few minutes to a few months or longer. During the recovery period, the affected brain cells remain vulnerable to further damage.

A Health.com report advises that a doctor should evaluate every concussion. Children should be taken to see a paediatrician as soon as possible. If managed correctly, 85% of concussions heal well within a few days.

But in the likelihood of a severe concussion that won’t heal in a hurry, a specialist should be consulted. Symptoms associated with a severe concussion that may occur weeks or months later and which require treatment in a hospital, include: trouble focusing, learning or memory problems, a headache that worsens, sleep problems, sad feelings, easily upset, angry or nervous, seizures, passing out or vomiting frequently.

Concussion in Children

When it comes to children, most of their injuries occur during play or sports. Coaches should warn players to report being injured immediately and not tough it out in the game, as this poses the risk of permanent injury. 

The game should be stopped and the first aid officer should examine the injured player and conduct a baseline concussion test. The results of this test usually get sent with the injured player to the doctor.

Affinity Health can provide you with a day-to-day plan, a hospital plan or a combination of both for total peace of mind. You can also benefit from booster options.

Affinity Health has created a range of healthcare products that are designed to protect you and your family when it matters most.

Contact Affinity Health today, and our agent will get in touch with you and take you through all the options available so that you can find easy, affordable cover that is designed for you and your loved ones. 

Kidshealth.org urges parents to ensure that the concussed child has complete rest for about two days from all activities – physical and mental tasks that require concentration.

They suggest relaxation at home, where the child can engage in calm activities like a conversation with family and friends, reading, drawing, colouring-in or playing a quiet game. Screen time – video games, texting, watching TV and using social media – should be avoided or cut down as these are likely to cause or worsen symptoms. A teen driver should be prohibited from driving a car, riding a bicycle or skateboarding.

Patients should get plenty of sleep at regular times with daytime naps if needed. Listening to loud music and caffeine should be avoided, especially before going to sleep. As recovery occurs, light activities can be introduced slowly. It could take months before the child/teen gets the green light to play sports again.

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