Concussions 101

May 11, 2017 / Michael M. Siegel, MD

Concussions 101

Concussions continue to make headlines with new, increasing lawsuits against the National Hockey League for the way in which it has handled players’ concussions. It is not the only organization that has dealt with such allegations, however. The National Football League and National Collegiate Athletic Association have dealt with similar claims.

You may wonder what effects these athletes have suffered or what this means for the future of these sports. Read on to learn more about concussions and how to protect yourself and loved ones.

What is a concussion?

According to the CDC, a concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury. Concussions are caused by an injury to the head such as a bump, blow or jolt that causes the brain to move back and forth rapidly. This violent movement of the brain can cause chemical and physical changes to the brain causing lasting side effects.

What are the signs of a concussion?

The CDC reports that those that may have a concussion can report having a headache, nausea or vomiting, show confusion or feeling sluggish or foggy, and may have dizziness. Others may observe that the injured person is unable to recall events prior to after the injury, loses consciousness, speaks slowly, and/or shows mood or behavior changes.

Are there long-term risks associated with concussions?

Many that have suffered from a concussion are able to recover within a couple of weeks. However, many of the athletes involved in suits against the major athletic associations mentioned allege that repeated concussions cause a degenerative brain condition known as Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE). CTE can cause a variety of symptoms such as impaired thinking, memory loss, depression, aggression, substance abuse and even suicidal thoughts or behavior.

How do I protect myself?

Concussions are often a result of accidents such as a fall or car accident but there are ways to protect yourself. One way is to avoid contact sports. If you do participate in contact sports, be sure to wear the proper protective gear and play by the rules. Of course, if you experience any symptoms of a concussion as a result of a head injury, be sure to seek immediate medical attention.