UNDERSTANDING CONCUSSION FOR BRAIN INJURY AWARENESS MONTH
Despite the recent hype around head injuries in football and other contact sports, it's not just athletes at risk for mild traumatic brain injuries (TBI), commonly called concussions.1
In fact, concussions can occur even without a blow to the head. They're caused when any external force shakes or jostles the brain inside the skull. This can happen in slips and falls, as well as car and bike accidents.
Forty percent of TBIs occur after a fall.1 Falls are most common in children and the elderly, causing more than half of all concussions in children under 14 years old and more than 80 percent of those in people over age 65.1
Here are some other important facts around concussion:
- Concussions are most often caused by a bump, blow or jolt to the head that disrupts normal brain function.
- Millions of concussions occur in the United States annually, and it is thought up to 50 percent still go unreported.2
- Most concussions occur without loss of consciousness.3
- High school athletes who sustain a concussion are three times more likely to sustain a second concussion.4
Learn the Symptoms of Concussion
Many people don't realize that a concussion can be difficult to diagnose since there is no test that is 100 percent accurate in helping to detect TBI. Current methods for diagnosis, such as basic questions and answers during a doctor's exam, are fairly subjective. CT scans can help, but the majority of mild TBIs show normal imaging even though an injury has occurred. Because of this, many concussions continue to go unnoticed and untreated. That's why Abbott is working to develop a quick and accurate blood test designed to detect specific proteins that are released in the blood when someone has a brain injury.
It's important to recognize symptoms of concussion, such as:
- Physical: Headache; fuzzy or blurry vision; nausea or vomiting (early on); dizziness; sensitivity to noise or light; balance problems; feeling tired or lacking energy
- Thinking / Remembering: Difficulty thinking clearly; feeling slowed down; difficulty concentrating; difficulty remembering new information
- Emotions/Mood: Irritability; sadness; being more emotional than usual; nervousness or anxiety
- Sleep: Sleeping more or less than usual; trouble falling asleep
When it comes to concussion, Dr. Beth McQuiston, M.D., board certified neurologist and medical director in Abbott's Diagnostics business, recommends remembering to stay on PAR.
- Prevent concussions by protecting yourself (such as wearing a helmet and following all safety recommendations)
- Ask a doctor or healthcare provider to assess your symptoms
- Rest to give your brain time to heal
During Brain Injury Awareness Month, we encourage everyone to learn how to recognize concussion symptoms. The sooner people are diagnosed with concussion, the sooner they can rest and recover to prevent long-term effects of their injury and so they can resume their daily, healthy and active lives.
To learn more about TBI, treatment and prevention, visit the following:
- Understanding Traumatic Brain Injury Infographic
- Sports and Concussion Infographic
- Football and Concussion Infographic
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Traumatic Brain Injuries
1 Traumatic Brain Injury in the United States: Fact Sheet. Website: http://www.cdc.gov/traumaticbraininjury/get_the_facts.html
2 Skerrett, PJ. New concussion guidelines say “When in doubt, sit it out.” Harvard Health. March 18, 2013. Website: www.health.harvard.edu/blog/new-concussion-guidelines-say-when-in-doubt-sit-it-out-201303185994. Accessed Feb. 25, 2015.
3 Concussion in Sports. Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Website: http://www.cdc.gov/concussion/sports/index.html
4 Concussion and Sports. BrainLine.org. Website: www.brainline.org/content/2008/12/concussion-and-sports.html