Two events that have something in common took place recently – the start of professional football season and Riders4Safety International Helmet Awareness Day. The common factor? Concussions.
Concussions occurring in sports have been linked to the decline in an effected person’s attention, verbal learning, reasoning, and information processing, as well as depression and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). CTE is a form of tauopathy, a class of neurodegenerative diseases.
Education on prevention, signs and symptoms, action plans, and helmet safety is paramount to avoiding the repercussions of a potentially dangerous concussion.
A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury (TBI) caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or a hit to the body that causes the head and brain to move rapidly back and forth. The sudden movement can cause the brain tobounce around or twist in the skull, stretching and damaging the brain cell and creating chemical changes in the brain.
Medical providers may describe a concussion as a “mild” brain injury because concussions are usually not life-threatening, but the effects can be serious.
After a fall, athletes (you or another) who show or report symptoms below may have a concussion or a more serious injury and should be evaluated medically by a professional immediately:
• Can’t recall events prior to to or after a fall;
• Appears dazed or stunned;
• Forgets an instruction or is confused by an assignment
• Moves clumsily;
• Answers questions slowly;
• Loses consciousness (even briefly);
• Shows mood, behavior, or personality changes;
• Headache or “pressure” in head;
• Nausea or vomiting;
• Balance problems or dizziness;
• Double or blurry vision;
• Bothered by light or noise;
• Feeling sluggish, hazy, foggy or groggy;
• Confusion or concentration/memory problems;
• Just not “feeling right,” or “feeling down”.
If you suspect that an athlete has a concussion, you should take the following steps:
• Remove the athlete from the horse; do not allow him/her to remount.
• Ensure athlete is evaluated by an appropriate health care professional.
• Do not try to judge the seriousness of the injury yourself.
• Allow the athlete to return to practice/competition only with permission from an appropriate health care professional.
It’s important to remember that signs and symptoms usually show up soon after the injury but may not show up for hours or days. Post-concussion syndrome (PCS) is a set of symptoms that may continue for weeks, months, or a year or more after a concussion – a minor form of TBI. A diagnosis may be made when symptoms resulting from concussion
last for more than three months after the injury.
Though there is no treatment for PCS, symptoms can be treated; medications and physical and behavioral therapy may be used, and individuals can be educated about symptoms and provided with the expectation of recovery. The majority of PCS cases resolve after a period of time.