Brain injuries can happen to anyone. Not just the burly right tackle on the football field. Not just the paratrooper desperately reciting the mantra “feet and knees together” as she exits an aircraft mid-flight.
As concussions take the forefront in conversations about contact sports and military training, awareness is still important in our everyday life and activities.
Concussions are head injuries resulting from a blow, hit or jolt to the head that causes an individual to briefly lose consciousness, to feel dazed or affects the ability to remember the injury.
“A concussion can happen anytime there is a direct blow to the head or when someone experiences whiplash,” said U.S. Public Health Service Commander Scott A. Klimp, director, Fort Bragg Intrepid Spirit, and chief, Department of Brain Injury Medicine, Womack Army Medical Center.
“If someone even thinks that there is a possibility of a concussion, it’s important to be immediately evaluated by a health care provider.”
Symptoms of a concussion usually surface immediately or soon after the injury. These include: disorientation, headaches, dizziness, balance difficulties, ringing in the ears, blurred vision, nausea, vomiting, irritability or sleep problems.
Additionally, attention, concentration or memory problems may occur. Not everyone will experience the same symptoms and the duration of the symptoms can vary greatly.
While concussions can be serious, most people who sustain a concussion make a full recovery. Maximizing downtime and rest is key, with sleep being an important component to healing.
“You used to always hear about not allowing someone with a concussion to go to sleep,” said Klimp. “Now we know that to just not be true. Sleep is very important when you have a concussion. The brain needs rest to help it recover and heal.”
Additional guidelines include drinking plenty of water while avoiding caffeine, energy drinks, alcohol and drugs. Limiting intense or strenuous activity and protecting yourself from another concussion are also extremely important.
“Even though we’ve learned a lot about concussions in the last decade, there are still a lot of misconceptions out there,” said Klimp. “Increasing awareness is key, especially since a few simple steps and intervention when a concussion first occurs can greatly improve long-term outcomes.”
To help increase awareness, the Intrepid Spirit is hosting numerous events throughout March as part of Brain Injury Awareness Month including an open house Friday, from 9 a.m. to noon, at the clinic, located off of Longstreet Road.
The JC AllStars will perform a free concert at Sports USA, March 23, starting at 4:30 p.m.
There will be free screenings of “Light Up to Live,” a documentary about traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder, at the Pope Training Annex, March 24, at 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. There will be an additional showing at the Soldier and Family Assistance Center at 5:30 p.m., which will include dinner and the documentary.
Additionally, there will be informational tables at the Reilly Road Mini Mall during lunch time on Monday and March 15 and 17.
For questions about upcoming events, call 907-6467.
No matter how long it’s been since someone has possibly received a concussion, Klimp said that it’s still important to talk to a provider, especially if the person is still experiencing symptoms.
“It’s never too late to go in and seek treatment,” he said.