There are millions of sports and recreation-related concussions that occur in the U.S. every year.
We talked with Dr. Jay Jagannathan, from the Jagannathan Neurosurgery Institute, about concussions from a specialist’s perspective, and a former NHL hockey player turned coach, Steve Olesky.
“A concussion is a temporary change in the brain’s function,” explained Dr. Jagannathan. “A lot of times you can see this after a trauma like a car accident, but more and more, we are seeing this in sports-related injuries.”
Football takes the lead in the number and severity of concussions. This is no surprise as it is a sport based entirely on “tackles” and hard contact. Hockey is also on the list for a high amount of concussions, as well as lacrosse and soccer.
While growing up as a hockey player and eventually going pro, Olesky has seen his fair share of personal injuries, and in his fellow players.
“Earlier on in my career, it was just known as ‘getting your bell rung’. We weren’t very educated as players and coaching staff, and that’s changed a lot,” Olesky said.
As a coach now, Olesky is glad that concussions are being taken seriously especially among younger athletes.
“A lot of concussions can come from both small hits and big hits, and now we are much more aware of that now. We have someone designated on the team to look out for symptoms associated with it,” Olesky said.
Symptoms can include confusion, headache, balance problems, feeling sluggish, and irritability. In some cases, the patient can experience loss of consciousness, sleep problems, and blurry vision.
Some symptoms may not be noticeable at first, which is why athletes need to be educated as well and communicate with their coaches, parents, and doctors.
“Unlike many of the other medical problems where it’s the doctor’s job to fix it, it really involves cooperation on multiple fronts,” Dr. Jagannathan said. “You need to teach players safe techniques, wear proper protective equipment, and encourage reporting of symptoms… not just try to “play” through it.”
To learn more about treatments, symptoms, and the causes of concussions, click here to be directed to the Jagannathan Neurosurgery Institute.