With fall sports in full swing, accidents are in the air, do you know what you can do to protect your brain health? Concussions happen at an astounding rate. It is estimated that the likelihood of an athlete in a contact sport experiencing a concussion may be as high as 19% per season. About 50% of the reported head injuries are a result of motor vehicle, bicycle, and pedestrian vehicle accidents affecting the age group 18 – 25 the most. Another group at high risk is the elderly group where falls correlate to a high injury rate.
Here are 3 things you should know to protect your brain health. 1) A concussion or traumatic brain injury can show up in many ways. With a mild concussion you may experience a brief or no loss of consciousness. You may appear dazed or have a vacant stare after the injury. Testing and scans may appear normal and symptoms may not be noticeable until later. Recovery may take days or weeks, with individuals experiencing dizziness, headaches, double vision, memory problems, irritability, and or depression. 2) You can lower your risk for injury if you take care of yourself and your family. This means protect yourself. Wear a helmet, one with a strap that will stay on when you fall. Be sure that your children are receiving a baseline neurocognitive test that can be utilized in return to play decisions to ensure proper time has elapsed for the brain to heal. For elderly family members, be sure that they have proper railing to hold on to in the bathroom area where most of the falls occur. After an accident of injury look for mood swings or changes in sleep patterns or problems with focus and concentration. Be proactive and be sure proper assessment and treatment is provided. 3) Closed head injuries can have long term consequences, particularly if a 2nd or 3rd injury occurs before the brain has properly healed. Research has shown the effect of repeated injury over the course of a professional athletes career can result in long term cognitive impairment and emotional issues, such as depression.
Remember, a brain injury can happen to anyone. Protect yourself and learn more about injury prevention and control. For more information visit the Center for Disease Control website, http://www.cdc.gov/concussion or The Brain Injury Association of Texas, www.biatx.org.