Under the Hood

Why Concussions Are Never A Minor Thing

Athletes tend to portray themselves as invincible on the field, where playing rough is not off limits. Football players and boxers consider mild blows and jolts to the head as occupational hazards. On the contrary, they should not treat concussions lightly because experiencing several mild head injuries consecutively have consequences.  

The recently released documentary on Netflix “Killer Inside: The Mind of Aaron Hernandez” shed light on chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a brain disease that affects many NFL players with recurrent brain trauma. Not just sportsmen, about 80 to 90 percent of the general population experience a traumatic brain injury at least once in their lifetime. 

Concussion 

Concussions can also occur from a strike to the head that makes the brain and head jump instantly back and forth. It can bruise the head but has the biggest impact on the brain. The condition may sometimes but not always lead to losing consciousness and is never immediately life-threatening. It can happen during a road accident, a fall or slipping at the grocery store. 

About 4 to 6 million people are disabled due to suffering from mild or chronic traumatic brain injuries. Symptoms are disorientation, headaches, lack of gait, vomiting, fatigue, feeling foggy or down, memory problems, nausea, vomiting, blurry vision and change in personality.

Concussion The King-Devick test can determine whether or not an athlete has a concussion. *_Abhi_* CC BY 2.0

Some of its impacts are as follows:

Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s

When mild head trauma is experienced frequently, the effects pile up together, eventually damaging the brain tissues. Studies have shown that when several mild head trauma incidents accumulate over time, it increases the risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. According to one study, people with traumatic brain injuries (TBI) are diagnosed with neurodegenerative diseases two years prior to people without TBIs. 

Military

A recent study conducted by the University of Massachusetts Amherst examined the records of 5,000 army and marine personnel who served in Iraq and Afghanistan from 2002 to 2011. A third of them experienced moderate and severe TBIs. The researchers found that 71 percent of the soldiers with TBIs were diagnosed with mental health conditions such as anxiety, mood disorders, PTSD, schizophrenia and other maladaptive behaviors. 

Elderly

The elderly usually have TBIs after experiencing a fall. One study found that 1 in 45 elderly people had suffered from TBIs before being hospitalized or dying in the year 2013. Old people can strengthen themselves by exercising regularly, improving their eyesight and removing physical obstacles from their surroundings. 

Precautions And Treatment

A cure for concussions is not specifically available. The remedies are usually just taking time off, resting and relaxing the brain. Avoiding sports, television, video games and socializing activities for a while could help. Anti-nausea and headache medication are sometimes given. Pulsed electromagnetic field therapy, flotation therapy and transcranial direct current stimulation are some of the treatment methods employed. 

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