Psychological and Medical Effects of Concussion
In day to day life activities, accidents are likely to occur - Psychological and Medical Effects of Concussion introduction. They may be minor or major resulting to adverse effects to the physical or mental state and may happen during occupational duties as in the case of military work or in the event of hobbies such as playing football. When this occurs, it is necessary to seek medical care in order to avoid eventual worse complications. This paper will discuss concussion as one form of these accidents in relation to its effects, treatment, different levels, aftermath and the psychological impact associated with it.
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A concussion refers to the most minor form of brain injury that results from “a mild or severe blow to the head” (USNLM, 2010 par. 1) or when the head is hit after a fall as shown in Figure 1. It commonly occurs in sports such as football especially during drills, practices and games in which the degree of seriousness does not differ (Anderson, Heitger & Macleod, 2006). It is also described as a short loss of the normal brain functioning since it causes the violent movement of the brain in the skull and in turn hits the bony surface. The events that take place during a concussion are illustrated in Figure 2. The common immediate symptoms include headache or pain on the neck loss of balance and vision disturbance while those later experienced are nausea, feeling of ringing in the ears or tinnitus, dizziness or tiredness, mood swings and change in personality (USNLM, 2010). However, it does not frequently involve the loss of consciousness (Harmon, 2000). The most serious effects are severe headaches, difficulty in movement, coordination, speech and communication, sensation and varied consciousness levels (Cantu, 1998).
Figure 1. Figure 2.
Besides sporting activities, concussion can also occur during other professionally related activities such as military work. In this case it may be caused by explosions such as the one in Figure 3, blasts and gunshot injuries due to the nature of their job (Williamson, 1863). The brain response to a blast is shown in Figure 4.
The best treatment method for concussion after monitoring is rest, which helps to quiet the mind and body so that healing can occur. Consequently, the symptoms usually go away within three weeks. Alternatively, if one experiences a headache drugs can be administered after the consultation of a doctor since some medicine such as aspirin increase bleeding risk (Harmon, 2000).
The military personnel have an initial battle field assessment for related post injury concussion which is provided by The Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Centre after they developed the Military Acute Concussion Evaluation. It is based on the relation between symptoms and injury (Kennedy & Moore, 2010) and supplements the basic assessment method. Additionally, social support and communication have been found to help in the recovery process for both sport and non sport concussion victims (Bloom et. al., 2004).
Levels of concussion
An injury from a concussion can lead to physical loss (Bloom et. al., 2004), which can either be short term resulting to no permanent harm, or serious and long term where it lasts for weeks or months. Occasionally these may even last for decades (ScumDoctor, 2006). This may lead to permanent damage due to cumulative concussions or the second impact syndrome as the symptoms are usually not easily noticeable and quick to disappear (Harmon, 2000). A life threatening situation such as a coma can eventually result as a long term implication (Cantu, 1998).
There is in addition, a three point system used to evaluate the seriousness of a concussion in order to determine the appropriate treatment. For Grade 1 and the most common type of concussion and which often goes unnoticed, ice is applied to the head at the site of injury to reduce swelling. It is then left for half an hour and is only used if the symptoms include no loss of consciousness, slight confusion and headaches which last for 15 minutes or less. If these symptoms take more than 15 minutes to clear known as Grade 2 (Bloom et. al., 2004), the person is observed till the symptoms disappear and further brain scans like a CAT scan performed if the symptoms worsen. The third system, normally referred to as Grade 3 includes treatment for loss of consciousness which indicates severe brain injury and involves examination by a medical specialist, brain tests and hospitalization (Cantu, 1998).
The aftermath of concussion or otherwise called post concussion disorder, is characterized by uncertainty of when the person will get well again. In addition due to the lack of visible symptoms such as swelling, inability to process things and slower activities, other people do not understand the problem hence the need for justification by the injured person (WCCO, 2008).
Psychological impact of concussion
The psychological effect of concussion is less felt among people involved in team activities such as football due to the support and understanding they receive from their teammates. However, at times team mates may pressure an injured person to resume play. Some of these effects are as a result of isolation and loneliness, pain, anxiety and daily life disruption. Such circumstances and especially those that lead to the ending of a career can result in emotional problems like anger, denial, depression, distress, shock and guilt. In turn these effects may cause addiction to exercises, problems related to weight control, family adjustments and substance abuse which may end up in serious health complications (Bloom et. al., 2004).
For a competitive athlete or a professional who is relieved of his duties after a concussion, it can present a difficult situation. This is also similar for students who might experience a drop in grades, misread words and frequently forget things. Furthermore, since concussion is not a clear cut issue and an issue, athletes among other people should be made to understand it in order to know how to deal with it. This will help in them take the immediate necessary measures after an injury and avoid serious implications. Besides, to make recovery faster different coping mechanisms are required due to the lack of a known intervention strategy.
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