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How Concussions Can Affect The Brain

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    A concussion is a head injury that can happen at any time. When dealing with concussions there are many reasons why it is important to sit out. The saying ‘When in doubt sit them out’ is for concussions. The reason being is because it could destroy your brain. Many high schoolers deal with concussions. In high school after you get three concussions, you cannot play anymore. The reasoning behind that is because they don’t want you to suffer from severe brain trauma because of a concussion that happened in a high school sport. Concussions are the most common head injury that occurs in sports.

    Concussions are not something to mess around with. If you think that you have a concussion make sure that you have healed entirely before doing anything. Many athletes want to rush back from a concussion so the can participate. It isn’t worth the risk when you could damage your brain and cause lifelong damage. It is very important that coaches, parents, and patients do not rush the healing process of the brain. The brain is made from soft tissue. Spinal fluid is what the brain is cushioned by and it protected the shell of the skull. Concussions cause the brain to not function as it normally would. When a concussion happens it can cause your brain to bounce around or spin in the skull. When the brain bounces or turns it causes a chemical change in your brain causing it to stretch or damage brain cells.

    Concussions can cause bruising, damage to the blood vessels, and injury to the nerves to the brain. Concussions are the most common and least serious type of traumatic brain injury. A concussion is a brain injury that happens from a blow to the head or a hit to the body that moves your brain rapidly back and forth. Concussions can happen during a car accident, a sports injury or an innocuous fall. The word concussion comes from the Latin word concutere, which means ‘to shake violently.’ Between 2001 and 2009 an estimated 173,285 people under the age of 19 were treated in the hospital emergency room for concussions related to sports and recreation activities(Mullally 885-892). From getting a concussion, the post-concussion syndrome can occur.

    Post-concussion syndrome is a medical problem that persists for a period of time after a head injury has occurred. Post-concussion syndrome has various symptoms such as headaches and dizziness for a long period of time. Post-concussion syndrome can range from weeks to months. The risk of post-concussion syndrome doesn’t happen to be associated with the severity of the injury. Experts believe the post-concussion symptoms are caused by structural damage brain(Southern Methodist University). It disrupts of the messaging system within the nerves. Researches haven’t figured why some people who’ve had concussions develop persistent post-concussion symptoms while others don’t. Some research has shown that certain factors are more common in people who develop post-concussion syndrome compared to the ones that don’t develop the post-concussion syndrome. The factors include the history of depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, significant life stressors, a poor social support system and lack of coping skills.

    The brain starts to mature before birth. However, the brain does not mature at the same rate in every individual. Our knowledge is dependent on the structure and function of the brain. Banks 3 In a fetus, their brain starts to develop in the belly if the mother. When the brain is maturing it follows different paths causing one to mature faster than the other. There are chemicals in our brain that causes it to mature and learn. The neurons in our brain travel to their eventful location. The neurons have to find a place where they can live and thrive. If they do not find a place to stay, they are pruned back and destroyed. Researchers have no figured out a reason to why some neurons can’t find a home. When the pruning does not happen or is incomplete learning disorders can occur. Their behavior can also be worse than the average child. At birth, the child’s motor and sensory systems are already working(‘ Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews 1510-1531). The motor of the newborn has enough control to feed and move away from painful stimuli. The visual and auditory systems still continue to develop after birth.

    In healthy children, the motor and sensory systems still develop during the preschool years. Just because you are the same age does not mean that you are ready to go on and learn the next topic in school(Pandya 129). The visual and auditory systems are still growing during this time also. The brain development is influenced by the inputs from the environment. Children that are prematurely born think that initial noise and clatter around as a painful. The premature babies need a quiet place to have the neurons keep developing. Learning specific skills can be hard as the brain develops. When a child is ready to start reading their auditory system is developmentally ready for the sound of another person.

    When a child’s auditory system is not ready they will have a delay in learning. When learning in the preschool years it is important to give them an age-appropriate task to learn. During the elementary years, the fibers continue to grow between the neurons and the myelin in our brain. The neutral networks growing connects the neurons and fibers transfers information throughout the brain. The interconnected network of neurons form memories and connect new learning with previous learning. While the neutral networks form the child learns both academically and socially. This learning is mostly repetition in nature. As the skill becomes more automatic the child doesn’t have to think of what they are learning or doing. The brain resources are freed up to be used for a complex task that require attention and processing.

    During the middle school years, inferential thinking becomes more emphasized in schools. Repetition learning becomes more distinct. The shift focuses on the increased connectivity in the brain. The chemical changes in the neuronal pathways that support the long-term and short-term memory. These chemical changes can last for hours, days or even weeks after the initial learning takes place. The frontal lobes begin to mature more fully in middle school. The maturation continues through high school and adulthood(Pandya 129). The frontal lobes development in the brain allows humans to evaluate and adapt their behavior based on their past experience. The frontal lobes are also where social understanding and empathy reside.

    The development of the frontal white matter tract begin around age twelve and continues into the twenties. This region of the brain is crucial for higher cognitive functions, appropriate behaviors and the development of formal operations. Banks 5 The effects of a concussion and when they can return back to school is different in every student. Some concussion will not significantly limit a students participation in school. However, most concussions can affect multiple aspects of a students ability to perform well in school. IN school when a concussed student has to concentrate on what they have to do can cause the symptoms to reappear or worsen.

    A concussion can affect long-term damage on the brain. A scientist at Southern Methodist University in Dallas found that a cognitive task as early as four days after brain injury can activate the region that improves memory function and can guard depression and anxiety(‘The first concussion crisis: head injury and evidence in early American football’). When learning with a concussion it can cause your brain to not function as quickly because the brain’s chemical reaction is messed up. So letting the brain rest after a concussion can get the neurons moving in the right direction again. The parasympathetic nervous system is associated with the memory function and implicated in better cardiovascular function. It helps regulates stress, depression, and anxiety which are the most common symptoms after a concussion. Concussed athletes normally have a lower heart rate than others.

    It has been shown that once you get a concussion it is most likely to occur again. If you have multiple concussions in the same part of the brain it can become increasingly damaged and sometimes the damage is irreversible(Kusmira, 2016). Sydney was a Nebraska high school student. In April of 2010 she got a concussion while playing soccer. She headed the ball and got a headache right after. In 2012 she couldn’t remember her freshman year of softball or soccer. When she got her concussion her coach said there was a hard fastball and she headed and she scored. Sydney said that she doesn’t remember anything of that game. After she came out they did the concussion test. It came back significantly Worse than her baseline showed. Her symptoms and test is what held her out of the game.

    There are many red flags that showed she had a concussion. Sydney still was active and went to school she also kept trying to play sports even while she had symptoms. Sydney said she had lied to her parents into our coaches to try and come back early. She tried her best to tough it out. Her headaches continue to worsen in her brain was trying to tell her that she wasn’t ready to continue going. She ignored all the symptoms she had. She had a 7 to 10 pain scale headache every day for two years. She never had a moment where she was free of pain(Mayo Clinic 2018). The sensory environment changed her mood daily. She felt like she had lost her passion and her whole past life before the concussion happened.

    She had to find something else to do because she couldn’t do sports anymore. She developed depression from her concussion and everyone around her could tell her mood was different. Sydney even had thoughts of suicide because she couldn’t continue what she left. She told herself everything would be better if she wasn’t here anymore. The male clinic did therapy to relieve the pain in her head. When they got rid of the main symptoms everything else cleared up also. She started to stop the activity and stay off her phone to help with the pain she had. She went back to the girl she was before the concussion happened. She was happy again and felt like herself. Sydney’s advice to young athletes is if you ever feel different after a blow to the head to stop it isn’t worth it. Don’t lie about how you feel.

    She knows that you want to get back faster but it can make you worse in the long run'(Mayo Clinic 2018). Kevin Saum a 17 your high school football star thought he was invincible. So he didn’t go crying to the coach about a headache that he had gotten he just play through the pain. Kevin ignored the blinding headache he experienced after the game. He talked himself out of telling his coach that he might’ve had a concussion. Since he didn’t tell anyone an ordinary hit was all it took to take them out of the game he loves forever. Kevin says he remembers standing up and not being able to feel his legs. That’s when he noticed that something was majorly wrong. Kevin did walk off the field but he said that his head hurt so bad and his legs felt like jello.

    Kevin said it felt like his legs felt like they were rubber. The athletic trainer said he started twitching and he had a gaze. Kevin did not recognize his father or anyone around him and his eyes went all the way to the right. That’s when the athletic trainer knew something bad was happening in the brain. She thought maybe his brain was bleeding Kevin then started to seize(‘High School Athletes Tackle Sports Concussions’). Kevin had what many call second impact syndrome. They say that Kevin is extraordinarily lucky to be alive today. Fifty percent of people that suffer from second impact syndrome die. The people who do survive have lasting brain damage. Kevin knows he is very lucky to be alive, but he says it doesn’t feel that way.

    Kevin‘s biggest dream was to play college football. During his first surgery, the doctor told him that he will never step foot on a football field again. Kevin just cried when the doctors told him that he couldn’t play again. The mild symptoms of a concussion are the most overlooked. The concussion testing is a common topic of concern for parents with children in sports. Numerous testing measures are used when a child thinks they have sustained a concussion. Since there are so many tests to show if you have a concussion no one knows for sure which is the most effective in diagnosing a concussion.

    The proper care for athletes begin in pre-season evaluations, also known as the physical. The physical is a requirement that athletes have to have to participate in sports. The physical allows for something to compare to following injuries that may occur. Another test that is necessary to compete in a sport is a concussion test baseline. Which is a test you take without a concussion to set your score. When you get the concussion you will retake the test and see how you did. If the score you got was lower than your baseline then you are not ready to participate in the sport yet. If you test and get higher or the same score then you are able to return the activity.

    It is important to take the test seriously because if you don’t then you will have a baseline score that is not correct and you could end up getting a worse brain injury(Toledo 2012). Concussions didn’t start becoming a public health problem until the early twenty-first century. The main cause of concussions is football because when tackling they lead with part of their head causing the brain to move around. Some concussions were not noticeable so they didn’t ever think anything was wrong. They had a small headache and no other symptoms. Even now, there are some people that have no symptoms of a concussion but cannot pass the test.

    Back then no one really knew what a concussion was. The only way the knew they did something was when they got knocked out. The recovery period back then was pretty short. You were recovered by the time your headache went away. Sometimes after you were knocked out you got up and went to play again. No one really cared about brain trauma and concussion until a well-liked railroad worker was penetrated by an iron spike(‘An Overview Of Concussion History And Needed Research’). After he recovered from the hit he had a different personality. Many say that he appeared as a different person.

    Years later the same personality changes were found in a severe brain trauma. There was four event that brought the attention of the public, military, government, engineers, and physicians to the importance of understanding concussions and its effects. There were eighteen deaths and one hundred and fifty-nine serious injuries from college football in the first ten years. Another event started with the controversial diagnosis during and after World War I, The reason being that the artillery shell blast caused short-term effects. There are three hundred thousand sports-related concussions annually in the United States.

    There are many reasons to never ignore a concussion. A concussion is a head injury that could happen at any time. You want to make sure that you have the proper healing time to not cause more damage to the brain. Even if you think you concussion is healed there could be long-term damage that could happen. For example, depression is a long-term effect and so is anxiety. There are many cautions to concussions that many don’t worry about. Some people think that concussion never cause any harm. There are many symptoms to concussions that people ignore. There are also many high schoolers that try and rush there recovery time so they can get back out and play the sport. After doing this paper I have realized that concussions are more than what people think they are. There are more risk and not many high schoolers have the knowledge about concussions and how serious they can end up.

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