A concussion is the most common form of acute traumatic brain injury. Medical literature refers to a concussion as MTBI (mild traumatic brain injury). It’s difficult to define and several definitions are used, such as “a complex pathophysiological process affecting the brain, induced by traumatic biomechanical forces”.
The long and short of it is this – you hit your head hard, may or may not lose consciousness, may or may not have brief losses of memory, and definitely cause some short-term impairment of brain functioning.
Concussions were previously thought of as mild and reversible disruption, but new evidence is showing that concussion causes diffuse damage to axons, which is probably the result of damage and inflammation or swelling around the membrane of the axon. This is thought to be the pre-cursor to chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) because it could start a biochemical cascade that leads to neurofibrillary tangles. CTE causes progressive changes in behaviour that follow from progressive death of neurons and astrocytes (a type of cell in the brain that supports neurons). Like all neurodegenerative diseases, the loss manifests itself as small changes in behaviour that become more pronounced as the disease progresses.
When you read the news about a hockey player recovering from a concussion, it’s a fairly serious injury. Concussions are more than just a swelling bump on the head, they’re considered a minor traumatic brain injury.
Some symptoms that occur include loss of consciousness, amnesia, confusion and a headache. The length of recovery is based on the severity of the injury, but sometimes there are symptoms that continue to linger, such as behaviour changes, cognitive impairments, post-traumatic headaches, balance problems and dizziness, depression and anxiety.
These types of injures are most common for athletes in contact sports with 19 per cent of them receiving a concussion each season, according to the Concussion Education and Prevention Agency (CEPA).
More and more stories are offering insight into how athletes’ lives have been affected by concussions and while they may have been considered a harmless injury in the past, new research is showing that there have potentially long lasting brain damage. This can lead to chronic traumatic encephalopathy, which is a degenerative brain disease that can only be diagnosed when the person has died, and acquired brain injuries can lead to issues with a person’s working memory.
A recent case between the NFL and 20,000 retired players and their partners illustrates the amount of damage some of them have endured from years of playing football. A judge recently ruled that a $756 million settlement between the two parties is not sufficient, which illustrates some of the costs of recovery. Spouses shared their stories about the injuries their husbands endured and in many cases they’re responsible for handling the paperwork, doctors, lawyers and keeping their households together by paying all the bills.
Once you receive a concussion, the chances of you getting another one grows exponentially. After your first concussion, you’re three times more likely to receive another and after that, your risk jumps eight times higher, says CEPA.
But concussions can be difficult to diagnose since symptoms don’t always display themselves immediately. Researchers from the University of Rochester are hoping that a blood test may be all that’s needed to diagnose a concussion since they’ve discovered that signs of a protein rise after a blow to the head.
Also, unfortunately some athletes continue to play even after they could possibly have a concussion. A survey done by the an emergency medicine fellow at Cincinnati Children’s shows that half of high school student endured an injury that could have led to a concussion, but they stayed on the field. Research is also showing that athletes who continued activities that required high mental capabilities recovered more slowly, says the Children’s Hospital Boston.
Studies are also showing now that if you have endured multiple concussions, then you’re more likely to develop brain plaques that could lead to Alzheimer’s, according to research conducted by the Mayo Clinic.
But many sports organizations are taking concussions seriously. In the United Kingdom, the Rugby Football Union announced that players and coaches will undergo a concussion training program before the start of the next season. While about 200 former NHL players have joined a class action lawsuit for concussion injuries and it’s expected that the number of plaintiffs will continue to grow.
Meanwhile, two University of Toronto students are preparing a private member’s bill to provide help and support for those who have suffered from concussions. Their bill includes launching initiatives such as launching a National Concussion Awareness Week, establishing a Centre for Excellence in Concussion Research and creating a strategy that addresses concussion issues.
If you’ve suffered from a concussion, it’s important to keep in constant contact with your doctor to monitor your condition. Get lots of rest and get a lot of sleep during the night. Don’t undertake any strenuous activities and avoid in participating in any contact sports. Limit your computer use and don’t drink alcohol. Keep track of any tasks that seem more difficult to you and discuss them with your doctors. Also, if you’ve been told that you’re recovering well, slowly go back to your daily activities.
If you have had an accident and are now coping with a brain injury, your life has changed significantly. Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers are here for you and have been handling all types of injuries for over 40 years. We understand the impacts they can have on you and we can help fight your case. Call us at 416-920-4242. Set up a free consultation and come chat with us.