-by Laura Klucznik
“You got your bell rung” is a common term used in the sporting world. A hit from behind into the boards in hockey or a head-on collision with another player in football are two prime examples of how to get your “bell rung”. The fact of the matter though, is that we do not have a “bell” inside our heads; we have a brain.
Our brain is in charge of telling our body what to do and when. From dribbling a basketball, to your stomach digesting a meal, to the way you feel about puppies, your brain is the main coordinator for everything. This is why it’s important to take a mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI), or a concussion, seriously. If not treated properly, a concussion can turn into a life-long struggle.
A strong enough force can cause a brain injury – even if you’re wearing protective gear. Early diagnosis of a concussion is key to the first step of recovery. After injury, a person may appear fine and ready to go back into play. However, the simplest change in mood or the slightest headache can indicate a concussion. In an article written by David T Bernhardt, MD, he lists some important signs and symptoms to look for following a possible concussion. They are as follows:
- Confusion or a dazed expression
- Delayed responses to simple questions and emotional changes
- Pain/headaches and/or dizziness
- Visual disturbances (e.g. seeing stars, blurry vision, or double vision)
- Amnesia or forgetfulness
- Signs of increased intracranial pressure: Vomiting, worsening headache, increasing disorientation, and a changing level of consciousness
(Bernhardt, D.T., 2013)
If you play sports, or you have children who play sports, it’s important for you to know what to look for and to understand your treatment options. You should never return to play if ANY concussion symptoms are present at any time. If a concussion is suspected, you should consult the on-field athletic therapist or physiotherapist for diagnosis. Following the injury, you should be educated by your athletic therapist or physiotherapist on how to treat your symptoms. As a rule, you should not return to activity until you are completely symptom-free (including during strenuous activities like jogging, sprinting, etc.).
The most important tool for recovery is rest, so if you have a suspected concussion, give your brain a break!