Seeing stars: Warning signs of a concussion and steps to take after injury

With the winter sports season heating up, it’s a good time to talk about concussion.

This is an injury not to be taken lightly. Sports like hockey, skiing, snowboarding and even basketball put athletes at risk for sustaining this type of traumatic brain injury. Even outdoor recreation like playing in the snow on the playground could lead to one. Being aware of the signs and symptoms of a concussion can help you better manage the condition and prevent further, more serious injury.

What are common concussion symptoms?

So, how do you know if you sustained a concussion? We often hear “I just got my bell rung, I will be fine.” This is not fine. Terms like “bell rung” and “seeing stars” all indicate that there was a hit to the head that disrupted the brain. 

Even a hit to the chest area can cause movement of the brain inside the skull, resulting in this type of injury. So do not take those comments lightly. If you’re feeling any of the following symptoms after a hit to the head, or even the body, getting examined by a physician is a good idea:

  • Headache
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Sleeping more than usual
  • Feeling “foggy”
  • Fatigued
  • Feeling “slowed down”
  • Visual problems
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Drowsy
  • Sensitivity to noise
  • Symptoms get worse when doing school/work activities

Where can you find out more about concussion management?

Fully returning to a sport or school/work before your symptoms are resolved can cause more damage or even another very serious injury. This injury is called second impact syndrome. 

Making a gradual return to activities that make symptoms worse, especially physical activity that may result in physical contact, is warranted. The University of Utah has a stepwise return to sport activity protocol that is widely used in the sports world. A similar graduated return to classroom and work activities is also a good idea.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also has a free program for parents, athletes and coaches to learn about concussion and concussion management. This is a great resource for anyone with active children or who still compete in sports themselves at any level. 

Physical therapy can also be a part of this process. Many long-term symptoms can interrupt our body’s balance systems, as can the injury itself. Physical therapists can use therapeutic techniques geared toward retraining the balance centers after injury to help you recover.

Find help for a concussion at Back in Motion Physical Therapy

Concussions have been a big topic of conversation in the media lately. They also carry some fairly significant consequences if not well managed. Recognizing some of these symptoms, managing the symptoms appropriately, and reporting symptoms to trainers and doctors are the best ways to prevent or minimize excessive head trauma and residual symptoms down the road. You can also find help for these symptoms from our Back in Motion Physical Therapy team. 

We offer free screenings that can help confirm that your symptoms are being caused by a traumatic head injury. Our therapy specialists can also build you an individualized treatment plan intended to reduce your symptoms. We even offer services that you can use from home, including virtual care and at-home therapy. 

Contact us today for more information about our available physical therapy services or to schedule an initial appointment. 

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