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How Many Concussions Are Too Many?

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A doctor makes a bandage on the head of a boy in the hospital.

On the football field, the hockey rink, and the rugby pitch, concussions are not uncommon. Contact sports have a high rate of players getting hit or falling, leading to concussions.

But you can get concussions off the sports field, too. Falling off a ladder, experiencing a slip and fall on ice, or getting into a car accident can cause an acceleration-deceleration force to your body, causing a concussion. 

There’s no magic number to tell you how many concussions are too many, but what you do after a concussion makes all the difference in recovery.

Ideally, the right number of concussions is none; but if one should occur, following proper return to activity guidelines is crucial. While multiple concussions over your lifetime are generally not a need for concern if they are allowed to fully heal between episodes, multiple concussions within a short time-period could lead to long term deficits. 

Recognizing the Signs & Symptoms of a Concussion

Signs and symptoms of a concussion can look different for each incident. Every patient is different, and no head injury is the same, so even though there’s a long list of possible signs and symptoms, your experience may be different than someone else’s.

However, relying on the severity of the symptoms alone to tell you if your injury is serious can fail you. Once your brain goes through the trauma of a concussion, a number of systems could be impacted, which if not treated adequately, could lead to persistent concussion symptoms.  If 3 ore more symptoms persist for longer than 4-6 weeks, the condition becomes known as Post Concussion Syndrome.  Even if you feel great, it’s not an indication that your brain is recovered.

How Do You Know If the Injury Is Serious?

Every concussion is serious, but some severe symptoms may indicate the need to head to the emergency department, to rule out a more sinister head injury.  If you experience neck pain / tenderness with reduced movement, double vision, weakness in arms or legs, tingling/ burning in arms or legs, severe or increasing headache, seizure or convulsion, loss of consciousness greater than 30 minutes, vomiting, feeling Increasingly restless, agitated or combative, bruising around eyes or ears, increasing confusion or an inability to remember the injury  – seek emergency medical attention right away. (Feel free to post these as bullet points)

What is Second Impact Syndrome?

Taking a break from your sport after a concussion is critical, even if your symptoms are minimal, because of second impact syndrome. If you don’t allow for proper healing of your concussion and get hit a second time, it can cause further trauma to your brain.

Although it’s rare, an injured brain is more susceptible to further concussions, so while sitting on the sidelines might be challenging, but ensuring a full recovery before putting yourself at risk again can be lifesaving.

How Many Concussions Are Too Many?

Repeated blows to the head need monitoring by health professionals. The health of retired professional football players and boxers is making news as recurring blows to the head are correlating with neurodegenerative disorders.

While research is still studying just how concussions affect the brain long-term, it’s clear that concussion care is important.

How to Take Care of a Concussion

What the neuroscience community knows about the complexity of concussions is constantly growing and adapting.  The new guidelines indicate that the days of hiding in a room with no books and little light are gone. Research is evolving and suggests that while a period of rest for up to 48-hours may be indicated, symptom limited cognitive and physical activity should be carefully monitored and progressed soon after. 

A young girl is riding a skateboard and wearing a safety  helmet, and elbow and knee pads for protection injury  and concussion.

Concussion Management & Treatment

If you experience a hit or blow to the head, getting a concussion assessment and diagnosis early is key to recovery. Whether you’ve had one, two, or several concussions before, every head injury is different, and management and treatment will be unique.

To help work through symptoms and get back to your routine, book an appointment with Running Shoe Restorative Healthcare for an initial assessment. If you’ve never had a concussion and aren’t sure if you have one, take a quick quiz and come in for a thorough evaluation to discuss your injury and symptoms. 

Written by Shaheeza Haji

Shaheeza Haji graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Alberta in 2009, followed by a Master of Physiotherapy from the University of Western Ontario in 2011. Being a staunch believer in “exercise is medicine” she attained her Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist status though the National Strength and Conditioning Association in 2013. At the end of that same year, Shaheeza was involved in a major life-altering electrocution incident whereby she sustained a number of injuries which required surgery and years of rehabilitation. One of these injuries was a traumatic brain injury; it is thought that the electrical current exploded within the confined space of her skull, which for lack of better terminology was coined by her medical team as an “electrical concussion.” This lead to her becoming certified in the treatment and management of Concussions in 2018. Also in 2018, Shaheeza began instructing at CDI college, heading up the Rehabilitation Therapy Assistant Diploma Program. Today, Shaheeza combines her love of teaching, her passion of concussion research, and the empathy & experience from her own injury to help those with acute and chronic concussions. Shaheeza also has a drive for entrepreneurship, being the CEO of Running Shoe Inc., directing both Running Shoe Restorative Healthcare and the Calgary Concussion Centre.
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