A message from Dr. Kelsey Louie, FNHA Office of the Chief Medical Officer
September 25 to October 1 is the second annual BC Concussion Awareness Week.
Concussions are brain injuries caused by a blow to the head, face, or neck – or from a force from elsewhere on the body that is transmitted to the head. They are “invisible injuries" that can happen to anyone, anytime, anywhere – not just professional athletes. In fact, they're the most common form of brain injury.
The goal of Concussion Awareness Week is to improve everyone's knowledge of concussions – how to prevent, recognize, and manage them appropriately.
Because early recognition of concussion, proper medical assessment, and appropriate management make a difference in recovery, I highly recommend visiting BC's Injury Research and Prevention Unit's website for comprehensive information about how to prevent, recognize, and manage concussions.
Meanwhile, here are some basic tips for preventing, recognizing, and managing concussions.
Common causes of concussion include falls or direct hits to the head in contact sports and recreational activities, along with motor vehicle accidents. Being responsible for your own safety by wearing the appropriate safety gear or equipment for whatever you are doing is important, e.g., helmets when participating in sports like hockey or cycling, and hard hats at worksites. However, while these can protect wearers from serious skull or dental injuries, they may not prevent the brain from moving around inside the skull when there is an impact to the head or body. Required protection equipment for work, sport, or activity should always be in good condition and fit properly.
Encouraging fair play in sports, and modelling respect and good sportsmanship, can help prevent concussions.
So can ensuring a safe workplace by providing concussion-prevention training (available through the BC Injury Research and Prevention Unit), conducting workplace assessments, decluttering walkways and workspaces, cleaning up spills, and using clear signage.
We cannot go through life wearing helmets, and accidents do happen. When they do, it's important to know how to recognize a concussion and manage it for optimal recovery.
Signs and symptoms of a concussion can include headache, dizziness, nausea, light or sound sensitivity, ringing in the ears, irritability, fogginess, difficulty concentrating, or confusion. Signs and symptoms that indicate immediate medical attention is required include loss of consciousness, multiple episodes of vomiting, seizure or convulsion, deteriorating conscious state, and increasing headache, to name a few. These symptoms may evolve over a number of minutes to hours, and in some cases, may be prolonged.
For adults, recovery from concussion may take up to four weeks or even longer. Concussion recovery should start with brain rest – be gentle with yourself and take both physical and mental rest for a day or two before gradually creating a return-to-activity plan. Here are some tips to optimize recovery: