What is a Concussion?

A concussion is a type of brain injury that damages the cells in the brain and causes them to not function properly.

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Who is Vulnerable?

Teenagers are especially vulnerable to concussions. A 2017 survey of teenagers by the CDC found that 2.5 million teenagers experienced a concussion in a sport or recreational activity, and 1 million teenagers reported two concussions in the previous year. (Concussion Legacy Foundation)

It is not safe to continue to play sports while concussion symptoms are present. It is important to be cleared by a medical professional trained in concussion management before returning to sports. If a person suffers a second concussion while still having symptoms from their initial concussion, a condition called second impact syndrome can occur, which will cause sudden and severe brain swelling. Although rare, this can become fatal.

Symptoms of concussions are wide and varied. Symptoms include:

  • A general feeling of fogginess
  • Confusion
  • Memory loss
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Headaches with sensitivity to light and sound
  • Feeling tired

It is important to be seen at a registered concussion center to have the best possible outcome. One of the best practices for patients who are at high risk for concussion, such as athletes, is to have a cognitive assessment before the injury even occurs. This is called a baseline screening. This baseline screen is held on file in the event that someone suffers a concussion and another test can be administered. The post-injury test results are then compared to the baseline to assess the severity of the symptoms, direct treatment, and predict recovery. Without a baseline for an individual, the provider is forced to compare to a group of peers instead of the individual which is not as accurate.

SHP offers free baseline screenings that are stored on file in a national database where medical providers can access these results across the country. If someone suffers a concussion while away at a tournament for example, or moves to a different state or city, these baseline evaluations can still be accessed.

SHP also offers concussion treatment and will help get someone back to sports or normal activities when safe to do so. Some treatments include monitored rest periods, special types of therapy and, in rare cases, special referrals to neuropsychologists for stubborn symptoms that do not resolve.

The bottom line is that it is important for athletes and anyone else that is at a higher risk for a concussion to obtain a free baseline screening because it will help providers understand their injury better, help tailor a treatment plan for them, and help predict and plan a safe return to sports and activities.

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Physician Assistant, Andy Cox of Synergy Health Partners Orthopedic Urgent Care talks about concussions. What is a concussion and what happens to your brain when you suffer one. Andy talks through care options and gives insight into baseline concussion testing.

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