A Discussion About Concussions » Nursing Jobs Blog – Nurses Insights at Nursing Jobs.org

A Discussion About Concussions

April 24th, 2015  |  The Blog

Concussions are caused by impacts or sudden forces, which affect the head.

According to the American Academy of Neurology (AAN), a concussion is any injury to the brain that results in temporary loss of normal function.

The Greatest Affects

Younger, developing brains take longer to recover from a concussion, physically and cognitively, than a mature adult brain. This trend was documented in a study that involved high school, college and professional athletes who sustained head injuries.

Treatment Plan

When a head injury and potential concussion happens, the brain is affected and so is the person?s balance, judgment and/or reaction time. These factors place the person at a greater risk for further injury.

As soon as a concussion is suspected, athletes should immediately stop playing their sport.

It is important that anyone with a suspected head injury be evaluated by a healthcare professional as soon as possible after the impact, even if they “feel okay”.

Symptoms of a Concussion

There are many different symptoms of a concussion. They can occur immediately after a head injury or in the hours or days following the head impact. The include, but are not limited to:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Blurred or double vision
  • Balance issues
  • Light sensitivity
  • Confusion
  • Mental fogginess
  • Slowed thinking
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Short-term memory loss
  • Difficulty finding words
  • Fatigue
  • Sleep disturbances-difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
  • Drowsiness during the day
  • Irritability
  • Increased anxiety
  • Moodiness
  • Depression

Concussion Management

Every concussion is managed individually, based upon a patient’s history and previous concussions.

Rest is the key component of concussion management. This holds true until the patient’s symptoms have completely cleared.

Important points in the management of a concussion:

  • No school
  • No learning
  • No screens (including computer, laptop, smartphone, TV)
  • No sports
  • Get as much sleep as possible

In essence, the best treatment is to shut the brain down and let it rest.

Getting Back Into the Swing

Slow progression back into a routine and schoolwork should start when symptoms subside. Many students start with a half-day at school and then go home to rest. Some students sit in on classes but do not participate, do homework or take any tests until they are symptom-free.

Recurrent Concussions

While recovering from a concussion, the brain is very susceptible to further injury, if the head is impacted again. This is true for the ensuing weeks and months after an initial head injury.

Second Impact Syndrome makes the athlete at greater risk of developing long-lasting symptoms. A second concussion in rapid succession can cause severe and permanent neurological disabilities and even death, in some cases. While such situations are rare, it almost always involves a young, high school athlete who returned to play too soon, while still symptomatic.

Prevention

Having a baseline cognitive test, as in an ImPACT test, on file before an athletic season begins is invaluable during the concussion recovery phase. It is important to know how someone?s healthy brain functions in comparison to his or her concussed brain function. When the brain function returns to the healthy baseline, it is an indicator that the person is healthy enough to segue back into their routine.

While the term concussion is sometimes used too frequently and often too loosely, it is a serious brain injury that demands immediate medical attention and follow through.

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