Concussion Awareness in Sports Elaine Keunen RN, BHScN,CCNC(c) Think First Canada www.thinkfirst.ca
Interesting facts about the brain • The brain weighs about 3 lbs. • The brain uses 30% of the oxygen and energy in your body. • The brain is encased by a skull with the thickness of three pennies. • The brain is not fully developed until about 25 years of age.
Lobes of the brain and their major functions • Frontal-personality, moral, ethical and social values, abstract thinking, long term memory, motor strip for the opposite side of the body • Parietal-sensory strip for the opposite side of the body, two point discrimination, reconigition of object by size, shape weight and texture, body part awareness • Temporal-hearing, senses of taste and smell, integrates sounds, thoughts and emotions • Occipital-vision, reading comprehension, and visual recognition of objects
Brain Cells • There are 100 billion cells in the brain. • Most of the cells are called neurons. • Neurons are basically like on/off switches of a light switch. • Neurons are either resting or shooting an electrical impulse down a wire called an axon. • Each of the neurons spit out chemicals that trigger other neurons.
What is a concussion? A concussion is a brain injury that results from a hit to the head, face or jaw or even elsewhere on the body. It may also result from a whiplash effect to the head and neck.
According to classic definition no structural brain damage occurs in a concussion. Symptoms are caused by temporary biochemical changes in neurons, taking place at their cell membranes and synapses.
A concussion may involve a loss of consciousness. However a concussion most often occurs without a loss of consciousness.
“There are 100 billion neurons (brain cells) and 1000 axons which connect each neuron in our brain, which control all aspects of life. A concussion disrupts those pathways and can be catastrophic” John Kumpf, executive director of the Ontario Brain Injury Association
The brain is surrounded by cerebrospinal fluid, one of the functions of which is to protect the brain from light trauma, but more severe impacts or forces associated with rapid acceleration may not be absorbed by this cushion.
Like a boat in a dock, the brain floats in liquid inside the skull. When the head is hit with force, the brain rubs up against the inside of the skull.
Concussions may be caused by impact forces, in which the head strikes something or is struck by something or by impulsive forces, in which the head moves without itself being subject to blunt trauma (example: when the chest hits something and the head snaps forward.)
Common Symptoms Headache Dizziness Feeling Dazed Seeing Stars Sensitivity to Light Ringing in the Ears Tiredness/Fatigue Nausea/Vomiting Irritability Confusion/Disorientation
Signs of a Concussion Poor Balance Slow or Slurred Speech Poor Concentration Delayed responses to questions Vacant Stare Decreased playing ability Unusual emotions, personality changes and inappropriate behaviour
Included in the cascade of events unleashed in the brain by a concussion, is impaired neurotransmission, loss of regulation of ions, deregulation of energy use and cellular metabolism and reduction of cerebral blood flow.
Second Impact Syndrome • Why players should not play until symptoms have subsided. Second-impact syndrome (SIS) is an extremely rare condition in which the brain swells rapidly and catastrophically after a person suffers a second concussion before symptoms from an earlier one have subsided. This deadly second blow may occur days or weeks after an initial concussion, and even the mildest grade of concussion can lead to SIS.
“If a person is brought back too soon into a sports games or work after a concussion, then those neuropathways may not have had a chance to stabilize and a person could experience recurrent symptoms or even death.”John Kumpf, executive director of the Ontario Brain Injury Association
Unfortunately concussions are the most common head injury but the most difficult to understand injury in the game of hockey
How do you diagnose a Concussion? Unfortunately there is no definite test or scan that can determine that a concussion has occurred. It is based on a judgment call considering the situation and the signs/symptoms that one is exhibiting.
Proper diagnosis can be difficult because often some of the symptoms may have subsided by the time that the player is examined by the physician. Explain explicitly the symptoms and duration as well as the mechanism of injury.
Researchers are finding a linear correlation between severe concussions and a risk of both depression and mild cognitive impairment which is a precursor to Alzheimer's disease.
Researchers have found about a 20% increased risk of depression in individuals who have suffered 3 or more concussions.
Girls and Concussions • Researchers are finding that females are two to five times more likely to suffer a concussion- belief is that hormones and the strength of neck muscles play a role. • Their symptoms generally are more severe, and females generally take longer to recover from concussions, on average a week longer than the male brain.
“Concussions can have a cumulative effects on memory, judgement, social conduct, reflexes, speech, headaches, dizziness and personality changes.”Dr. Charles Tator-Professor of neurosurgery at Toronto Western Hospital and founder of Think-First Canadawww.thinkfirst.ca
“One of the most important things to know about concussions are that they are injuries to the brain. People don’t think that they are important, but every concussion is extremely important and it’s not something to pass on.”Dr. Michael Cusimano-Neurogurgeon at St. Michael’s Hospital, Toronto
“the immediate steps taken following a concussion are directly related to one’s recovery. He says the best thing to do following a hit to the head is to see a doctor for diagnosis and rest.”
“The brain needs to rest and not be stimulated by light, noise or concentration of any kind. Most people who suffer one or two concussions recover normally. Repeated concussions or, in severe cases, concussions can be catastrophic and lead to permanent damage.”Dr. Charles Tator: Professor of Neurosurgery at Toronto Western Hospital and founder of Think-First Canadawww.thinkfirst.ca
We are treating and therefore managing less than 1 out of 10 concussion like experiences, the main reason stems from a simple lack of education
Post Concussion Syndrome (PCS) • Is a set of symptoms that a person may experience for weeks, months, or occasionally years after a concussion • It is not known what causes PCS to occur or persist, or why some people who suffer a concussion develop PCS while others do not • Occurs in about 10% of the people who have suffered a concussion
Symptoms of Post Concussive Syndrome • Headaches - the most common symptom • Dizziness-the second most common symptom • Sensitivity to noise and light • Blurred vision or double vision • Ringing in the ears (tinnitus) • Loss of hearing • Fatigue, sleeplessness or insomnia • Problems with concentration and memory • Irritability, depression and anxiety or changes in personality
It is believed that some individuals have a susceptibility towards concussions so players that have had a one or more concussions should be watched closely.
“Motivation to win, the wish to advance in their sport and earning acceptance of their teammates often outweigh the need to play it safe.” Dr. Michael Cusimano- Neurosurgeon at St. Michael’s Hospital, Toronto and professor of neurosurgery at The University of Toronto
“This mindset, coupled with the influence of media and behaviour of some parents, coaches and officials, unfortunately send a clear message that it is more important to continue play injured than take someone out of the game.”Dr. Michael Cusimano- neurosurgeon at St. Michael’s Hospital and professor of neurosurgery at The University of Toronto
Helmets “When it comes to protection in the sport of hockey, the helmet is an athlete’s most vital piece of equipment.” Mark Messier-NHL hockey icon and spokesperson for The Messier Project with Cascade Sports
Helmets are proven to significantly reduce the number of head injuries but the proper use and fit is important. However, wearing a helmet does not make a player invincible to concussions.
Helmets must be CSA approved, and remember that helmets have a life expectancy of 3-5 years only. Never wear a used helmet!Application of stickers can affect the manufacturers warranty if they are not approved for use on helmets.
“Time is an enemy, even to high quality helmets. The cushion layer becomes worn down over time as it is exposed to a lot of sweat and humidity. The layers shrink and stiffen, and after time they are unable to provide adequate protection.” Alain Hache author of the ‘physics of hockey
There are huge differences in the quality and padding of helmets so look around when purchasing a helmet. Have it properly fitted and buy the best quality that you can afford.
Every brand of helmet fits slightly different and every persons head is different so try on a variety of helmets and select the most comfortable and best fitting helmet for you!
The one-finger breadth rule for strap tightness • You should be only able to get one finger between the chin strap on a helmet and the chin. Helmets must fit properly to be effective!
Mouth GuardsWhile there is no conclusive evidence that mouth guards prevent concussions there is no conclusive evidence to proves that they don’t. Mouth guards are part of mandatory equipment and must be worn!
All players should consult a physician after a concussion. Coaches/Trainers/Players and Parents should not attempt to treat a concussion without a physicians involvement.
If a Player sustains a concussion, you should: *REMOVE THE PLAYER FROM THE GAME Do not leave the player alone-monitor signs and symptoms Do not administer medication Inform the coach and parent or guardian of the injury The player should be evaluated by a medical physician
If there is a loss of consciousness:Initiate the Emergency Action Plan and call an ambulance. Always assume a possible neck injury as well.
Why are concussions increasing? • Today's players are better trained and faster on their skates then ever before, therefore the acceleration of hits have increased. This is because of improved ice conditions and better quality skate technology. • “The faster the acceleration, the greater the impact the internal organs (including the brain) will suffer and the more shaken-up a player will be.” Alain Hache author of ‘The Physics of Hockey’
The outsides of shoulder pads and elbow pads are harder on the outside to protect the player but the player who is hit with this equipment is at a greater chance of being hurt especially if hit in the head. Harder and Larger Protective Equipment
Players are larger and more muscular then in years past. Therefore the smaller shorter player is going to come out the loser in a heavy check. The shorter smaller player is more likely to suffer a blow to the head than the larger player.