The third Friday of September is National Concussion Awareness Day. Sierra Bignell, a physician assistant at BestMed Clinic in Great Falls, explained to MTN News what exactly a concussion is.
“A concussion is basically like a bruise to the brain. It can also be called a very mild traumatic brain injury. It usually happens when the brain either stretches or pushes against your skull in any sort of bump, fall, or hit”.
Some signs and symptoms of a concussion include nausea, vomiting, headache, dizziness, irritability, personality changes, and excessive sleepiness. Recovery from a concussion will depend on the severity of the injury, but standard protocols are in place to keep everyone safe.
“If it's a mild concussion, usually we like to have the patient rest for at least 24 to 48 hours. We like to do a step-down type of recovery time frame where say it's an athlete, we have to gradually reintroduce them to the sports that they play” explained Emily Stopka, a nurse practitioner at BestMed.
If a person were to hit their head falling off their skateboard and go to BestMed Clinic to get checked out, the providers would perform a neurological examination.
“We check ears, check behind the neck, the eyes, and inside the nose. We're checking for spinal fluid leakages and then their neurological set up, how they're doing” Stopka explained. Bignell also detailed checking the patients reflexes and cranial nerves during the examination.
With the fall sporting season in full swing athletic trainers at both CMR and Great Falls High School have to follow district mandated protocols when it comes to concussions.
Great Falls High School athletic trainer Judi Rowe discussed the program they use, “We use a program called Sway Medical. We do a baseline test for all our athletes. Then if they do come up with symptoms at a game, we can retest them”.
Although there is a risk of getting a concussion within any sporting activity, there is also a risk during any activities performed in daily life and fear of injury is not a reason to not participate.
CMR High School athletic trainer Randy Logan expressed his thoughts on the topic, “I think there's an element of risk involved in everything, but I do think there's been a little bit of fear out there on these things. Obviously, I'd like to encourage participation in sport. I think the participation far outweighs a lot of these risks. Know that there are people looking out for the kids and we're doing the things to make sure that they're protected and taken care of.”