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What You Didn't Know about Concussions: 10 Important Facts

Many of us are at risk for a concussion and we don't even know it. Daily activities such as playing sports, riding a bike, and driving or riding in a car may raise your chances of getting a concussion.

While most of us won't experience a concussion, it's always a good idea to be prepared. Here are 10 things you should know about concussions to help keep you and your loved ones safe.

  1. A concussion is a traumatic brain injury.

    A concussion is not just a bad headache from bumping your head. It is a kind of traumatic brain injury (TBI) that needs to be taken seriously.

  2. A small amount of concussions involve a loss of consciousness.
  3. About 90% of the alcohol consumed by underage drinkers is in the form of binge drinking. And 44% of college students binge drink.

    Many people believe that you have to black out after an injury for it to be a concussion. But, most concussions do not result in a loss of consciousness. Signs of concussions can include:

    • Headache
    • Dizziness
    • Blurred eyesight
    • Confusion
    • Upset stomach or throwing up
    • Slurred speech
    • Feeling tired, weak
  4. Symptoms may not be apparent until days after the injury.

    Just because someone doesn't immediately start showing signs of having a concussion does not mean they are in the clear. According to the National Institute of Health, some concussion symptoms may not show up until a day or two after the injury.

  5. Concussions can happen even without a blow to the head.

    Getting knocked in the head is a common cause of concussions. But, they can also happen when the head or upper body is violently shaken such as in a car crash.

  6. Young children may have different symptoms.

    It can be harder to tell if young children have a concussion because they may not be able to tell you how they are feeling. So, as well as looking out for the common signs of a concussion mentioned in #2, it's important to look out for these in young children:

    • Crying more than usual
    • Change in eating, nursing or sleeping patterns
    • Wobbly when walking, losing balance
    • No interest in their favorite toys and activities
    • Trouble paying attention
    • Sad mood
    • Change in behavior
  7. Children and teens take longer to get better than adults.

    According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) children and teens do not recover as quickly from concussions as do adults. Parents can help their children heal by making sure they get plenty of rest and stay away from activities such as riding bikes or playing sports until their doctor gives the OK.

  8. Concussions can happen in any sport.

    The sports that lead to the most TBI-related ER visits are football, basketball, soccer and bicycling. But, that doesn't mean that concussions won't happen in other sports and activities. All coaches, parents and athletes need to know the signs of a concussion and what to do if a concussion does happen.

  9. Anyone with a concussion should be kept out of play until they get the green light from their doctor, even if they feel better.

    It's very important to rest after a concussion so that your brain can heal. Even if you are feeling better, your brain may not be back to its normal functioning. Wait until your doctor says you can safely return to play, otherwise you run the chance of having a more serious brain injury than you began with.

  10. You may still have a concussion even if it doesn't show up on the tests your doctor does.

    If you or someone you know has concussion you should go see your doctor. Your doctor may do a scan of your brain or give you other tests that test your ability to pay attention, solve problems and quickly think. According to the CDC, even if these tests and scans do not show that you have a concussion, you may still have one. It's important to follow your doctor's orders and follow up with them if your symptoms worsen.

  11. There is no foolproof way to prevent a concussion, but you can lower your chance of getting one.

    Here are some tips to lower your chances of getting a concussion:

    • Wear protective gear that fits during sports and other recreational activities
    • Wear your seatbelt every time you are in a car
    • Make your house safer for your children by putting up safety gates at staircases and window guards
    • Learn how to identify concussion signs and symptoms

    Sources: CDC , National Institute of Health

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