Did you know that close to 2 million people in the US suffer from traumatic brain injuries? The numbers are shocking and, as if that’s not bad enough, in 2014, around 155 people in the US died daily as a result of traumatic brain injuries. A sense of urgency is required, therefore, and you must visit an experienced neurologist such as Dr. Amor Mehta, a specialist in treating traumatic brain injury in Marlboro Township for treatment.
A traumatic brain injury (TBI) occurs when you get hit on the head, and your brain’s frontal and temporal lobe gets injured. There are two types of TBIs, namely mild and moderate-to-severe.
A mild TBI is a brain concussion and is more typical of the two types, especially among people who play sports or are in the military. A moderate-to-severe TBI is more profound as it may lead to disability or even worse death.
There are several actions you should take to treat and manage both mild and moderate-to-severe TBIs.
First Things First After A Sports-Related Concussion (SRC)
Just like other injuries, the first 24-72 hours after a concussion are very crucial, and there’s a need to act fast to prevent both temporary and permanent negative impact on the cognitive functions.
The severity of TBI determines the recovery rate; however, studies show that women take longer than men to recover from a sports-related concussion. Although the studies are inconclusive, the reasons behind this difference in recovery have been attributed to the distinction in injury mechanism and neck strength.
Step 1: Detecting and Diagnosing A Concussion
An athlete may not show immediate signs for minutes or even hours after an SRC. Additionally, they may tend to downplay any symptoms to prevent getting benched.
Some of the common signs of a concussion include memory impairment, confusion, headaches, and amnesia. Note that these signs are still not enough to give a diagnosis of TBI. The doctors will need a summary of previous injuries and “red flag symptoms” such as seizures, vomiting, and severe headaches to warrant suspicion of TBI.
These symptoms will prompt the doctor to assess an SRC using the “Sports Concussion Assessment Tool” (SCAT). This is done in two phases. The first one being a prompt side-line assessment, and the second evaluation gets done off the pitch.
The presence of any “red flag” symptoms will indicate that the TBI could be moderate-to-severe. The athlete is immediately rushed to the hospital for a medical evaluation and accurate diagnosis.
Step 2: Removal-From-Play and Early TBI Management Protocol
An athlete must immediately discontinue playing once they show signs of an SRC. Mild traumatic brain injuries require two days away from the pitch to rest and to monitor the situation. The removal-from-play protocol prevents the athlete from getting a second concussion.
The first 48 hours are considered a window of vulnerability where persisting metabolic disturbance could lead to severe injuries. This is significant for children and adolescent athletes who are at high risk of the “second impact syndrome.” This is a condition whereby an athlete suddenly dies or gets a neurological disorder.
Step 3: Recovery
It’s difficult to tell when an athlete is fully recovered after a traumatic brain injury. This is because of the clinical as well as physiological factors that come into play. Athletes must gradually be reintroduced to the sport and other life activities to avoid provoking any symptoms of TBI.
Mild Injury Recovery
An athlete may increase the intensity of sports practice once symptoms of the concussion have subsided. It should be done in several stages, from light aerobics and contact drills to full sports practice.
Moderate-to-severe Injury Rehabilitation
Some or all of the behavioral, motor and cognitive functions get impaired once a mild injury becomes severe. Recovery could go for months or even years, depending on the intensity of the damage. Doctors will employ cognitive rehabilitation to reduce an athlete’s pain and prevent them from getting disabled.