With the Australian Open wrapping up a few weeks ago and the Summer Cricket Season being in full swing, I thought that it would be an appropriate time to talk about concussion management.
I’m sure many of you have hit your head at least once in your lifetime; whether it happened during a game of family backyard cricket or it may have happened when you were running away from your sibling and accidentally hit you head against the corner of a doorway. Regardless, I’m sure that in most instances, you didn’t think it was too serious and forgot anything ever happened within five minutes.
But unfortunately, it isn’t that simple. Any force to your head; whether big or small, needs to be treated with caution. You do not need to be completely knocked unconscious to suffer a concussion.
What is a concussion? It is a brain injury that causes temporary changes to the way it works. The brain is made of a soft tissue and is cushioned by a fluid, all encased within your skull. The brain is able to move around in the skull, and so if the brain bangs against your skull, it can injure the brain’s nerves and blood vessels; quite similar to a graze when you fall and hit your knee on the ground. But it does not stop there…over the next few minutes and hours, your brain will become inflamed. This is a normal process for healing, however, pressure builds up within and it can take days to settle, which is why it is important to have complete rest for at least 24 hours. This means no sport, minimal use of television and laptops, no driving, no drowsy pain medication and also, no homework!
So if you ever experience any of the following symptoms; headaches, not feeling quite right, feeling pressure in the head, difficulty concentrating, neck pain, difficulty remembering basic things (i.e. where you are or which team you played last week), nausea or vomiting, fatigue or low energy, dizziness, confusion, blurred vision, drowsiness, balance problems, trouble falling asleep, sensitivity to light, feeling more emotional, sensitivity to noise, irritability, feeling sluggish, sadness, nervousness, or anxiety; then it is very important to rest until symptoms have resolved! After 24-48 hours, once symptom free, it is okay to commence light exercise, provided you feel completely normal. As the week progresses, you can gradually increase the level and intensity of exercise, consistently monitoring for any symptoms.
Finally, and most importantly, ensure you seek medical clearance from your local GP before returning to sport!
Amanda De Vas Gunawardena