Did you think all that padding, fair play, and helmet use was going to protect you from a mild tramatic brain injury(mTBI)? All those things do decrease mTBI in teenagers but they still happen and when they do, you need to know if and when it is safe to return to school and sports.
What is happening with a mild traumatic brain injury? A force hits the body or head and the brain sloshes, moving back and forward or side to side. As this happens, the neurometabolic functions of the brain are disturbed and brain function becomes abnormal. What the brain looks like is normally not changed, but how the brain functions is significantly disturbed. These disturbances can be seen in changes in sleep, emotions, ability to do school work and headaches.
Symptoms of concussion usually fall into four categories:
|Difficulty thinking clearly||HeadacheFuzzy or blurry vision||Irritability||Sleeping more than usual|
|Feeling slowed down||Nausea or vomiting
|Sadness||Sleep less than usual|
|Difficulty concentrating||Sensitivity to noise or lightBalance problems||More emotional||Trouble falling asleep|
|Difficulty remembering new information||Feeling tired, having no energy||Nervousness or anxiety|
In the past it was a sign of toughness to return to a game after there was a hit to the head . Today we know there can be lifelong injuries or death if someone receives a head injury and then returns to play and receives another one. While most students with mTBI’s will recover fully with the proper evaluation, rest and slow return to normal activities, now it is mandated by Alaska state law that a player is removed from the game as soon as there is a mTBI and seen by a healthcare provider trained in head injuries before she/he returns to play. In addition, based on the injured student’s symptoms, the healthcare provider must indicate at what pace the injuried player returns to school work and sports.
If a student has a mTBI, the parent can be the best advocate for keeping the student safe and not returning to play too soon. A parent’s observations of the student’s mTBI symptoms can add to the students’s observations and assist a healthcare provider. After a mild traumatic brain injury and all the symptoms are gone, a student will first return to school work, then non contact exercise and then regular play. If the symptoms return with any of these activities, further rest is needed.
The Center for Disease Control, as well as the NCAA, has extensive, reasearch based information for students and parents.