Sunday , April 15, 2018 - 5:15 AM
A bump or hit to the head while playing sports or from a fall may not seem like a big issue, but it actually is. It could be a concussion.
A concussion is a traumatic brain injury caused by a bump, bolt or jolt to the head, face, neck or elsewhere that causes the brain to move rapidly within the skull.
“When it comes to concussions, the rule once was, ‘when in doubt set them out,’” neuropsychologist Dr. Benjamin Christiansen says. “What we’re trying to get the community to understand is that’s partially true, but there are a lot of tools we have now that we can use without having to guess to find out if a student athlete has had a concussion.”
Dr. Christiansen and his team have created a program called Baseline, similar to the Impact program that schools currently use.
“The problem with Impact is they take an entire football team in and they all do it at once, the teammates joke around and no one takes it seriously,” he said. “So when someone gets a head injury, it's hard to really identify it.”
With Baseline, coaches, athletic trainers and parents are trained by highly experienced neuropsychologists on identifying concussions.
At the beginning of every season, the athlete takes a Baseline test in the doctor’s office without other teammates around. If the athlete gets injured during a practice or game, the coach, trainer or parent can quickly identify if the child has a concussion by pulling up the Baseline information on their phone and get them on their way to recovery.
“We know that not treating the concussion correctly definitely leads to bigger issues,” he said. “For example, we know that your best chance of getting a second concussion is within six weeks of getting your first one because people think they feel better and they go off and do something they shouldn’t.”
Though concussions differ from person to person, oftentimes symptoms don’t show up for 24-48 hours after the injury. Those symptoms include:
“A lot of people don’t understand the protocol. If someone has a concussion, don’t let them go home and play video games or listen to their headphones — that makes the situation worse,” Christiansen said. “The biggest goal is getting them back sleeping and keeping them very hydrated. If they’re not better within three weeks, they need to see a neuropsychologist.”
Drinking 2 liters of water a day, taking a break from the sport and other exertional activity, staying away from all electronics and getting quality sleep will all help with the recovery.
“In teenagers, we do that for three to four days then start introducing them back to their normal lives because if we don’t, research has shown that they actually get depressed and anxious and their symptoms magnify,” he said.
To learn more about the Baseline program at Tanner Clinic, call 801-773-4840.
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