Knockout: Why Concussions Should Be Taken Seriously
By Michele Crissman, J.D., MS, RN, CMA (AAMA), University Dean, Allied Health
Concussions in sports have received a lot of attention in the last couple of years. A concussion can occur in nearly every sport, not just boxing where people endure direct blows to the head. We’ve heard of athletes in baseball, football, soccer and basketball, as well as cheerleaders, who have sustained concussions. With the long-term effects of concussions being noted, more emphasis is being placed on preventing these injuries and providing proper treatment and recovery after they occur.
Sports at all levels are taking seriously the need to prevent, evaluate and treat concussions. I recently watched a college football game and saw a player who had been ejected from the game for “targeting.” This rule is designed to prevent injury by prohibiting players from targeting and contacting other players above the shoulders. While this rule is highly controversial, it was developed out of consideration for player safety. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has taken up a campaign to increase awareness of concussions and has partnered with the NFL and other sports organizations to educate athletes about the need to recognize a concussion, allow time for recovery and keep the player from returning to action too quickly.
So what exactly is a concussion? A concussion is an injury to the brain that occurs because of a blow to the head, or because a fall or blow to another part of the body causes rapid back-and-forth movement of the head. When a concussion occurs, the athlete may experience symptoms, such as headache, dizziness, blurred vision, memory lapses or loss, alterations in judgment or decision-making or changes in coordination. It is important to know that loss of consciousness frequently does not accompany a concussion. Concussions can be difficult to identify because of vague symptoms. Thus, after a suspected injury, the athlete should undergo an evaluation by a trained individual. Concussions are difficult to treat; rest is usually the best remedy. The symptoms of a concussion can last for several days and even weeks or months. Repeated concussions can have greater effects on the trauma to the brain and require even longer recovery times. Long-term effects of concussions can include attention deficits, as well as symptoms of other nerve and brain damage.
Michele Crissman, J.D., MS, RN, CMA (AAMA), is the program chair of Health Sciences and Criminal Justice at CTU’s Sioux Falls campus, as well as university dean of Allied Health. She has worked in the health care industry for 24 years as a registered nurse, and manager/director at departmental and executive management levels. Crissman also briefly held positions as a law clerk and magistrate judge.
Image Credit: Flickr/Andrius Petrucenia