Monday, July 22, 2013


Use your head when dealing with concussions

Kasey collided into another soccer player hitting her head on the ground. She was a “little shook up” but still wanted to play. When the game was over she felt “sick and had a headache.” Should Kasey have kept playing?

According Anthony Alessi, MD, a member of the Backus Medical Staff and Neuro Diagnostics of Norwich, Kasey should not have continued playing. Kasey could have had a concussion and it was a bad idea for her to stay in the game.

Dr. Alessi explains that the brain is made of soft tissue and is cushioned by spinal fluid, within the skull. When a head injury occurs, the brain can move around inside the skull and even bang against it. When this happens, a concussion occurs — a temporary loss of normal brain function.

Most people recover fine from concussions with appropriate treatment. It’s important to take the proper steps if you suspect a concussion. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a few signs and symptoms of a concussion include:

•  feeling dazed, dizzy or light headed
•  not “feeling right”
•  nausea or vomiting
•  headache
•  blurred vision.

An additional source of information is a free app for your smart phone, provided by The American Academy of Neurology (AAN), a trusted authority in managing sports concussions. The app “AAN Concussion” is a valuable resource for coaches, athletic trainers, doctors, parents and athletes to quickly evaluate the individual.

If you or a teammate has a hit to the head inform your coach or an adult immediately. Dr. Alessi says the best treatment for a concussion is rest. Individuals recovering from a concussion should avoid activities that require a lot of thinking and concentration.

Concussions can be prevented by taking simple precautions, such as wearing appropriate safety equipment.

If you are uncertain if you have a concussion, the best advice is “When in doubt, sit out!” It’s better to miss one game than the whole season.

Lisa Cook is a community education nurse for the Backus Health System. To comment on this column or others, visit the Healthy Living blog at or e-mail Ms. Cook or any of the Healthy Living columnists at

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