Sport’s most common injuries explained – by a real doctor! THIS MONTH: Concussion
What is it?
According to Dr Will Craddock, Sport and Exercise Physician Registrar at Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs Sports Medicine Centre in Bondi, “Concussion is caused by a direct or indirect blow with force transmitted to the head.” In other words, it doesn’t need to be a head clash. Having a human tree trunk crash tackle you, pounding you into paste, can also bring it on. “It is usually of rapid onset, short lived and spontaneously resolves. It is a functional disturbance rather than a physical injury to the brain.”
What are the symptoms?
“They may include headache, the most common, nausea or vomiting, altered hearing, blurred vision, dizziness, trouble falling asleep, fogginess, pressure in the head, balance problems, sensitivity to light and noise, feeling slowed down, difficulty concentrating and remembering, fatigue, confusion, drowsiness, sadness and, nervousness or anxiety.” So it’s sort of like being drunk and hungover at the same time. While swimming in mud. On acid.
How do you treat it?
“Concussed athletes should be observed for the first few hours in case they deteriorate but otherwise should return home with a Head Injury Card, which details signs to watch out for indicating a more serious injury,” says Dr Craddock, who also recommends refraining from physical and brain exercise – so avoid cryptic crosswords. Sadly, you also need to keep away from alcohol and aspirin, and don’t drive – unless it’s Gran Turismo.
How long does it last?
“When all symptoms have resolved and balance and brain function is deemed normal, a graduated return-to-sport-program involving light aerobic exercise, sport-specific exercise, non-contact training drills and full contact training may be attempted, with each step taking 24 hours and progression occurring if the athlete remains asymptomatic,” Craddock explains. A full return to sport can usually occur within seven to 10 days.