Mind­ing your brain


The Gulf Today - Panorama - - Contents - by Wina Stur­geon

Maybe you fell off your bike and landed on your head. Maybe you were in­volved in an ac­tion sport, you weren’t wear­ing a hel­met and your head took a hard hit. Per­haps you even lost con­scious­ness for a few sec­onds. Guess what? You may have got­ten a con­cus­sion. But even if it’s a very mild con­cus­sion, in which your brain didn’t slam into your skull with a whole lot of force, it’s still con­sid­ered a TBI (trau­matic brain in­jury). Your brain will need time to re­cover, and you will have to make life­style changes to al­low that re­cov­ery.

The Amer­i­can Na­tional Foot­ball League (NFL) is get­ting a lot of news head­lines be­cause of re­peated con­cus­sions suf­fered by their play­ers, which over time may re­sult in a con­di­tion called chronic trau­matic en­cephalopa­thy, or CTE. This con­di­tion causes symp­toms of both de­pres­sion and de­men­tia. But play­ers of­ten want to get back on the field as soon as pos­si­ble, even after a hard hit to the head. How­ever, when a player’s brain is not given enough time to heal after a con­cus­sion, CTE can be the re­sult.

A lot of folks don’t re­alise when they’ve suf­fered a con­cus­sion, be­cause they’re not fa­mil­iar with the symp­toms. But if you’re an ath­lete, or an ac­tive per­son, you should be aware of the signs of this brain in­jury, es­pe­cially when there has been a loss of con­scious­ness, even if only for sec­onds. The first symp­tom is con­fu­sion, like “What just hap­pened?” You may try to stand up, but feel dizzy. There may be flashes of light in your vi­sion, like see­ing stars.

A more se­ri­ous con­cus­sion can re­sult in a kind of am­ne­sia. Some­one may ex­plain what hap­pened to a per­son who just suf­fered a con­cus­sion, but they may ask the same ques­tion over and over again. There is of­ten a ring­ing in the ears, with nau­sea or even vom­it­ing when the con­cus­sion is se­vere.

The best and quick­est way to re­cover from a con­cus­sion is brain rest. That ac­tu­ally means rest­ing the brain, not us­ing it. Mild brain use is OK, but those with con­cus­sions should avoid study­ing or try­ing to learn some­thing new. Forc­ing one­self to con­cen­trate or pay at­ten­tion to pre­vi­ously un­known knowl­edge will only pro­long the du­ra­tion of the brain in­jury, re­quir­ing ad­di­tional heal­ing time.

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