Lakeview Health System
Heads up about Concussions

Did Friday night’s, fourth quarter tackle leave your child feeling dizzy, light-headed and nauseated? These symptoms may indicate a concussion. A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or by a hit to the body that causes the head and brain to move rapidly back and forth. Concussions are usually not life threatening but the effects can be serious.

Steve Harrold, MD, a family medicine doctor with an interest in sports medicine at Westfields Hospital & Clinic, and a credentialed ImPACT® consultant, says symptoms of a concussion can include:

  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Balance issues
  • Light-headedness
  • Nausea
  • Trouble focusing
  • Vision issues
  • Neck pain
  • Heightened emotions
  • Light and noise sensitivity

To determine if a patient has a concussion, it’s important to first get information about the injury. Patients then complete a concussion survey to assess their symptoms and then undergo physical and neurologic tests. “We use all of this information to determine the seriousness of the injury and what care a patient needs,” says Paul Schaefer, MD, a Stillwater Medical Group sports medicine physician.

Dr. Schaefer says anyone who experiences a head injury – whether it occurred during sports or another event – should undergo a concussion or other head injury evaluation. “The testing, monitoring and treatment for concussions are far different than decades ago,” says Dr. Schaefer. “More research has been done on concussions and the effects, and care plans are more comprehensive.”

Dr. Harrold says most people who experience a concussion work with a physical therapist, which can be an important part of recovery. “Approximately 10 percent of patients require medication to help healing.”

Dr. Schaefer says helmets are an important piece of safety equipment to minimize the risk of a catastrophic head injury; however, this equipment hasn’t proven to reduce the occurrence of concussions. “Strengthening the neck muscles may help,” says Dr. Schaefer. “The theory is that stronger neck muscles minimize whiplash-type movements of the head at the time of impact. Football players should learn proper tackling technique. Hockey players can learn to skate with their heads up to be alert to possible impacts from those skating around them.” Anyone who experiences one or more concussion symptoms should see a medical provider.

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