The Effects of a Concussion Can Last a Lifetime

A concussion can affect the brain in a number of ways. Some of which can linger for a long time. A concussion can impair cognitive abilities like speech and memory, disrupt normal vision, cause irritability and lead to depression. Multiple concussions can amplify these symptoms, extend the recovery period, and do permanent damage to the brain. Some people may not even know they have a concussion. So after any blow to the head, it is best to see a doctor.

Long-term effects of a concussion can include difficulty making decisions, memory loss, difficulty concentrating, headaches and dizziness. Many people report just not feeling like “themselves”. Luckily, these symptoms usually improve or go away over time.

The NFL and CTE Link

Several NFL players over the last several years have died by suicide or odd situations that caught the attention of scientists. Autopsies on the brains of these athletes, such as Junior Seau, a former linebacker for the San Diego Chargers and New England Patriots, revealed that nearly all of them suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). While CTE isn’t the definitive cause of suicide for these players, it very well could have played a key role in the onset of depression and other factors that lead to their untimely death. Unfortunately, the diagnosis of CTE can only be determined upon autopsy. Therefore, its been difficult to confirm the link between CTE and severe depression, as well as its commonality in athletes.

Athletes Aren’t the Only Ones at Risk

Athletes aren’t the only people who run the risk of these types of brain injuries. While it is uncommon for a single concussion to lead to CTE, it is possible. This is especially true if the concussion caused unconsciousness. Any head injury should be treated with the utmost care and assume the worst until the official diagnosis is confirmed.

If you or someone you know sustains a head injury seek medical attention immediately. Symptoms to look out for include a headache, dilated or unusually moving eyes, difficulty waking up, seeing stars, nausea, convulsions, loss of consciousness, difficulty walking, or other strange behaviors or feelings. A series of tests, including an MRI, a CT scan, or an EEG, might be done to make sure there is no unusual swelling of the brain. This can also rule out the risk of seizures or other complications.

There are preventative measures that can aid in avoiding concussions. Always wear protective helmets when riding bicycles and motorcycles or when playing certain sports. Wear a hard hat when working with heavy equipment or entering areas that present a risk. Drive safely, and never drink and drive. Concussion awareness is important, so get educated. The brain is the body’s most important organ, so it is important to take care of it.

 

Sources: NCBI and Daily Bruin
Photo credit: Reigh LeBlanc at Flickr

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