How much do you know about concussions?

Athletes are hardly the only people at risk.

Concussions, and their risks, are making headlines. But beyond headlines, how much do you really know about concussions?

There’s misinformation out there — for example, that you haven’t had a concussion unless you pass out. The reality: Most people with concussions never lose consciousness.

This may surprise you, too: Athletes and people playing sports aren’t the only ones at risk for concussions. Falls are a common cause of concussions — and they can happen to everybody, from toddlers on playgrounds to older adults with balance problems. Car crashes cause concussions, too.

Damaged brain cells

A concussion is a type of brain injury that’s caused by a blow to the head or hit to the body that makes the head and brain move rapidly back and forth. This can harm brain cells and change the way the brain normally works.

Although most severe head injuries and concussions can be recognized at the time of injury, the signs and symptoms of a concussion may take up to 48 hours after the head injury to develop. “It is very important for any individual who has sustained any type of head injury to be observed closely for the next few days,” advises Kettering Physician Network’s David Buck, MD, with the Sports and Injury Clinic at Soin Medical Center in Beavercreek. “Also, the individual should refrain from any physical activity until they are evaluated and cleared by an appropriate healthcare professional.”

Dr. Buck says if someone would sustain a second concussion before the first concussion has resolved, they could experience Second-Impact Syndrome, which occurs when the brain swells very rapidly causing severe disability or even death.

While most people recover completely from concussions, every concussion needs to be taken seriously.

“Concussions can cause a variety of physical, cognitive, and emotional symptoms,” Dr. Buck says. “Individuals recover from a concussion at different rates. Although most concussions resolve within a few days to weeks, some may require a few months to resolve.”

That’s why it’s crucial to take preventive steps:

Ride safe. Even on short trips, always wear a seat belt and keep kids safe in seat belts or properly installed car seats or booster seats — whichever is right for their age.

Wear proper fitting headgear. Helmets are a must for activities like biking, playing contact sports, skiing, snowboarding and using in-line skates or skateboards.

Make surroundings safe for seniors. Remove tripping hazards like throw rugs and clutter. Add lights or change to brighter bulbs to improve visibility at home. Stair hand rails and grab bars in the bathroom can also help reduce the risk of falling.

Be particular about playgrounds. Kids should only play on ones with shock-absorbing surfaces, such as mulch and sand. Watch out for rocks, tree stumps and other materials that could cause your child to trip.

Kettering Health Network is a faith-based, not-for-profit healthcare system. The network has eight hospitals: Grandview, Kettering, Sycamore, Southview, Greene Memorial, Fort Hamilton, Kettering Behavioral Health and Soin.

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