Concussions And You



Concussions And You


On a typical basis, George Fernandez is hit by sailing soccer balls, jabbed by
elbows, is kicked by other players and, sometimes, flat-out knocked out cold. He has had
so many concussions, he cannot remember some of them, which cause temporary lapses
in the brain and sometimes longer-term side effects (Bellenir 72). This type of behavior
is one source attributing to the increased occurrence of concussions during sports
activities. George\'s case is a typical example of what is occurring on sports fields and
arenas everyday. On local playing fields as well as in amateur sports nationwide,
concussions are often viewed no differently than sprained ankles and sore muscles. Expert, Dr. Rubin Echemendia of Pennsylvania State College, has said that it is this
perception on concussions that is dangerous, because it is so far from the truth (Hoffman
386). Thus, one of the most confusing and dangerous of injuries has the sports world on
alert.
What is a concussion? It is a bruise to the brain caused by a sudden blow to the
head. The brain is ultra-sensitive and vulnerable to any amount of physical contact. In a
normal state, the brain floats in a liquid, which separates it from the inner skull. The soft
insulation prevents the brain from absorbing any pressure from the hard bone of the outer
skull. In addition, the brain is covered by three protective membranes (Powell 4).
The outer most layer of the brain is called the dura mater. This layer is connected
to the soft interior of the skull at various points, which serve to hold the brain within the
skull. The brain sits upon a brain stem, a part of the spinal cord, which passes out the
bottom of the skull through a hole, called the foramen magnum (Roy 1). When the head is struck, however, the force sends the brain crashing in to the inner skull. The seriousness of the bruise, also known as cerebral contusion, determines the seriousness of the concussion. A minor bruise results in a temporary dizziness; a major bruise can produce more serious head trauma (Powell 5).
A person, who suffers an injury important enough to cause a cerebral contusion
the cutting and tearing of nerve tissue, is putting them self at risk for permanent brain
damage. Injuries involving some type of physical contact to the head are among the most
common in society. Some 700,000 people in North America suffer traumatic head injuries each year, and between 70,000 and 90,000 are left permanently disabled. Head injuries can range from minor damage to the head and face, such as lacerations, abrasions, and
bruising to more serious circumstances involving damage to the brain. While traumatic
brain injury occurs much less frequently, it is important to know how it is identified and
what to do for the person (Roy 1).
Loss of consciousness, even for a short period, is one of the clearer signs that a
blow to the head may have affected the brain. A state of confusion, in which the victim is
uncertain about such things as the time, date, or location of the events surrounding the
time of the head injury, are also signs of trauma to the brain. Any of these symptoms
following a blow to the head should be taken seriously (Roy 1). With the most severe symptoms such as loss of consciousness for a few minutes or more, the person should receive medical attention quickly. With less than severe symptoms, the person should be looked after for a time span of several hours after receiving the injury. The person\'s state of consciousness should be checked periodically during this time. It would be customary to check items such as orientation of time and place and immediate memory function at this time to assist in uncovering possible problems. Any evidence of deterioration may be an indication of the delayed effect of a brain injury due to swelling or bleeding in the head. Either of these would require that the person receive medical help as soon as possible. Some special consideration for how and why these symptoms arise will provide an insight into why, at times, even a mild physical contact hit to the head may have very seriously life-threatening consequences (Roy 1).
Unconsciousness