Lately, when you hear the word “concussion” images of professional hockey players such as Sidney Crosby may enter your mind. Concussions have been receiving a lot of attention in the media, and with good reason. There has been discussion around ensuring that athletes do not return to their sport of choice too soon.
What is a concussion?
Concussions are caused by a bump, jolt or blow to the head. What many people do not realize is that there does not need to be a point of impact (i.e. between the head and another object). The force of the brain colliding with the inside of the skull due to a sudden change in direction can be the cause.
Many people have misinformation about what a concussion is and what it is not. The fact is, a concussion is a mild traumatic brain injury. The word “mild” can be quite misleading. Doctors use the word “mild” to describe the brain injury suffered because the injury is not life threatening. Don’t be misled – a concussion can be a very serious injury.
Concussions can happen in a variety of situations including car accidents; falls; playing a sport; and assaults. While many people associate them with certain sports such as boxing, and due to the expansive amount of media attention, with hockey and football; a concussion can occur when playing any sport including soccer, cheerleading, gymnastics, wrestling, and so on and so on…
What can go wrong?
Many people recover quickly from a concussion but some do not. For some, recovery can take days, weeks, months or longer. Multiple concussions can lead to a longer recovery time.
The real-life impact is sometimes not realized right away. It can take time for an individual to realize what difficulties they are faced with. The difficulties can include trouble with a host of cognitive skills.
Concussions can affect a person’s thinking/remembering; physical function; emotion/mood; and/or sleep. As Speech-Language Pathologists, we see people with symptoms such as trouble remembering, trouble organizing their thoughts and expressing them, trouble following conversations, and trouble understanding what they read. Some people I have worked with didn’t realize that their difficulties were a result of their concussion.
If you or someone you know has experienced these difficulties after a bump, jolt or blow to the head, they may have had a concussion. Are there other symptoms that you or someone you know are experiencing that could be related to a concussion?
Bobi Tychynski Shimoda is a Speech-Language Pathologist with more than a decade of experience working with neurological communication and swallowing disorders. She has worked in a variety of settings including inpatient rehab, acute care, community, and private practise. She is highly skilled in assessment, and innovative treatment approaches.