Frequently Asked Questions
What is a concussion?
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What should I do If I think I have A Concussion?
The Sport Information Resource Centre (SIRC) suggests that athletes adhere to the 4 Rs:
1. RECOGNIZE the signs and symptoms of concussion.
2. REMOVE the athlete from the game or practice.
3. REFER the athlete to a licensed healthcare professional.
4. RETURN to school and then to sport based on the recommendations of a medical professional.
Can Helmets prevent Concussions?
No! Although wearing a helmet is a good idea when participating in sports like hockey, football, biking, skiing, etc., they DO NOT prevent concussions. However, helmets can help to protect you from skull fracture.
Who is at risk for concussion?
Adolescents and young children are thought to be at greater risk for concussion than adults. This is thought to have something to due with the fact that your brain, as an adolescent, is still developing. Your brain is thought to be more vulnerable to injury. Individuals who have had a prior concussion are also thought to be at greater risk for another injury. Females also appear to be more susceptible to injury than males; this is thought to be due to differences in neck girth and strength between males and females.
What Should I expect If I get a concussion?
Every concussion is different - no two people will experience a concussion in the exact same way. For the most part, you may experience symptoms such as: headache, dizziness, feeling tired, having trouble concentrating, being sensitive to light or sound, and sleeping troubles. In general, you just don't feel like yourself! Don't worry - things should start to get back to normal for you soon.
How Long will it take to get better?
No two concussions are the same. That means that some people will take longer to recover from a concussion than others. Some things may make things worse for you - like not listening to your doctor's instructions and going back to play too soon. In fact, getting another concussion before your last one is better can be really dangerous, especially for adolescents. Immediately following a concussion, some symptoms may actually get worse before they get better. For the most part, you should start to feel better each day. Within a month, most adolescents are back to their normal school and sport routines.
Can I make my symptoms worse?
Yes, you can! If you don't give your brain enough cognitive rest, it may worsen or prolong your symptoms. However, doctors and researchers no longer believe a "dark room" is the best approach to reducing symptoms. The inclusion of graduated physical exertion protocols (i.e., increasing intensities of physical activity; Buffalo Treadmill Test) within concussion management practices has been shown to promote recovery following the acute rest period.
Is there anyway to get better, faster?
Your brain sets the pace. Listening to your doctor's advice and giving your brain the rest that it needs is one of the best ways you can get back to doing what you love, sooner. Some evidence suggests that educating you and your families about your injury may also help your symptoms get better, sooner. Light exercise, such as walking, is also thought to be helpful.
What is cognitive rest and why do I need it?
Cognitive rest is like physical rest, but for your brain. This means taking it easy from using electronics like your phone, computers, TV, and even some reading tasks like homework. Taking a step back from studying for that big test, or practicing for your big presentation is probably a good idea while you're trying to get better. If you push the limit, you'll probably start to feel worse. You might get a headache, or feel really tired. This is your brain telling you that you should take it easy.
When can I go back to playing my sport?
Good question! Below is one step-wise approach that is commonly used when returning athletes to their sport. Each stage is separated by a minimum of 24 hours. You need to feel "good" at each stage before you can move on to the next. To move from one step to another, your concussion symptoms should NOT get worse. If they get worse, you stay at the same stage or drop back down a stage until you feel better.
Stage 1 - Rest
You need to feel good when you're just sitting around doing nothing.
Stage 2 - Light Physical & Cognitive Activity
Maybe go for a walk, or light jog. Start getting back into your school work.
Stage 3 - Sport-specific Activities
Do you play soccer? Go for a run. Do you play basketball? Shoot some hoops. Do you play hockey? Grab your stick and puck, take some shots on net.
Stage 4 - Sport-specific Drills
Dribble the ball, pass with a partner, get your heart rate up when you're skating around the ice. Try to practice each and every skill that you'd normally practice or need when playing a game. The one thing that we don't want you doing here is contacting other players or objects (like the goal post).
Stage 5 - Participate in Full Contact Practice
Time to get back on the field/rink/court,etc. Play like you normally would in practice. Body contact is allowed. Work on gaining back your strength and endurance in this stage.
Stage 6 - Return to Game Play
Once you've been given the "green light" or "cleared to play" by a trained health care professional (like a doctor), you can get back to playing your sport.
Centers for Disease Control & Prevention