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Concussion Care: Understanding and Implementing Effective Management

TL;DR: Concussions during exercise are more common than you’d expect, affecting about 24% of Canadians. Recognizing symptoms like headaches and confusion is vital. Immediate steps include stopping activity, seeking medical attention, and monitoring for worsening symptoms. Recovery involves rest followed by a gradual return to exercise. Protective measures like helmets and mouthguards can help prevent concussions. Prime Health + Performance in Vancouver offers personalized training and physiotherapy services for safe and effective workouts.

Concussions, a type of brain injury caused by a bump or blow to the head, are more common than you might realize, especially during physical activities such as exercise. Surprisingly, about 24% of Canadians report experiencing a concussion as a result of engaging in such activities.

This statistic serves as a wake-up call on the reality of brain injuries and the necessity for proper concussion care. Understanding and implementing effective management and safety measures during exercise is necessary, but so is taking the proper steps immediately after the injury to prevent further harm.

This article will give you vital information and advice on managing a concussion should you or someone you know encounter this situation during exercise. Whether you’re a regular gym goer or a personal trainer, knowing how to respond to and manage a concussion must be a part of your health toolkit. With the right approach, you can address a concussion adequately and return to your daily activities and exercise regimen safely.

What is a Concussion?

We say a concussion happens when your brain gets shaken up inside your skull due to a sudden impact or movement. That doesn’t mean your brain bounces around in your head, but the force from a hit to your body or head causes a quick shift in brain movement, creating chemical changes in the brain and sometimes stretching and damaging brain cells.

Now, when you’re exercising or playing sports, it’s easy to see how you might end up with a concussion. Common gym-related activities that might lead to a concussion include heavy lifting if weights accidentally hit the head, falling or slipping on wet floors, and high-impact exercises that result in direct head collisions or sudden, forceful movements.

Concussion Symptoms and Signs to Look Out For

Suffering a concussion doesn’t always mean losing consciousness. Symptoms vary widely, but they often include headaches, confusion, dizziness, and sometimes even issues with memory or balance.

Physical Symptoms

A concussed person may experience a persistent headache that doesn’t seem to ease with regular over-the-counter painkillers. Dizziness and problems with balance can make standing or walking difficult, while nausea or vomiting can occur without any stomach-related issues. Another telltale sign is experiencing blurred or double vision, which can disrupt the ability to read or focus on objects.

Cognitive symptoms

Confusion often sets in, making it hard to follow conversations or remember simple tasks. Memory loss, mainly forgetting recent events or conversations, is a typical red flag. You might find yourself easily disoriented, struggling to remember where you are or how you got there. Difficulty communicating, such as finding the right words or understanding others, can also signal a concussion.

Emotional symptoms

Increased irritability is a crucial sign, especially when minor annoyances cause significant anger or frustration. You may also experience heightened anxiety without a clear reason or feel overwhelmed by emotions that you would normally manage without issue.

Immediate Steps After a Suspected Concussion

If you think someone might have suffered a concussion while exercising, you must act quickly. Concussions are no small matter and can have serious, long-lasting effects if not adequately addressed. What you do next can significantly impact the recovery process and overall outcome for the person injured. What you need to do is:

  • Stop the activity: Continuing to exercise or perform physical activity after a head injury can dramatically worsen the situation. The brain needs time to heal, so further strain or impact can increase the risk of more severe brain injuries or even lead to prolonged recovery times. It’s better to pause and assess the situation than to risk further harm.
  • Place the person in a safe environment: After a concussion, the individual’s balance and coordination might be off, making them more prone to accidents or further injuries. Keep them away from activities that could result in another blow to the head or fall until a healthcare professional looks them over.
  • Seek medical attention: A healthcare professional can assess the severity of the concussion and provide the necessary guidance for recovery. Symptoms of a concussion can be subtle and not always immediately apparent, so getting a professional evaluation is vital. The injured person will receive the correct treatment plan and advice for the days and weeks following the injury.
  • Watch for additional symptoms: In the hours and days after the injury, new symptoms might appear, or existing ones might worsen. These include headaches, dizziness, nausea, confusion, or memory problems. Keep a close eye on the injured person so you can quickly respond if their condition seems to decline.

Concussion Management Principles

Concussion management in gym environments starts with recognizing the importance of a thorough medical evaluation immediately after a head injury. You should expect healthcare professionals to conduct a comprehensive assessment, including a physical exam and neuroimaging tests. This can help determine the severity of the concussion and help plan an appropriate recovery strategy.

The Recovery Process

The concussion recovery process emphasizes the role of rest, especially in the initial phase following the injury. Medical professionals often advise on physical and cognitive rest, meaning you should avoid activities that require physical exertion and those that strain your brain, like screen time or intense studying. This rest period supports your brain’s healing process, reducing the risk of worsening symptoms or prolonging recovery.

Return to Exercise

When you’re ready to start moving again, you must gradually return to exercise. Recent research indicates that light physical activities 48 hours after the concussion can speed up recovery.

However, to increase exercise intensity safely, you must follow a structured approach. Start with light aerobic activity to get your heart rate up without overdoing it. Then, you can move on to moderate activities requiring more effort but still avoid any risk of head impact.

Heavy, non-contact activities come next, allowing you to increase your exertion levels significantly. Only after you’ve navigated through these stages without issue should you consider returning to practice and full contact in sports, eventually resuming your regular exercise routine.

Protective Measures and Equipment

When used correctly, helmets and mouthguards can significantly reduce the risk of head injuries during physical activities. Additionally, you can modify your exercises to make them safer. This could mean adjusting how specific exercises are performed to minimize the risk of falls or collisions. By taking these precautions, you contribute to a safer gym environment for yourself and others, helping to prevent concussions before they happen.

Implementing Effective Concussion Management During Exercise

You need to be honest about your physical limits and not push beyond what your body can handle. It’s equally important to have open conversations with your coaches and teammates regarding any past concussions and the symptoms you experienced. This transparency helps them tailor a training plan that accommodates your condition, minimizing re-injury risks.

For coaches and trainers, the responsibility extends to educating clients about the risks associated with concussions and recognizing the signs early on. This includes setting up and strictly following safety protocols during training and exercise. It might require adjusting the intensity of training sessions based on how well an athlete is recovering from a concussion.

Find The Safest Gym In Vancouver, BC

Concussions require careful attention, especially in a gym environment. Recognizing symptoms and taking the proper steps toward management is vital for all gym goers and trainers. This includes knowing when to pause your training and how to restart physical activity under professional guidance.

Prime Health + Performance is a top choice for those prioritizing health and fitness in Vancouver. With a team of over 20 professional trainers and physiotherapists, we offer personalized training and physiotherapy services designed to meet your specific needs. Our approach is grounded in sustainable, evidence-based practices, ensuring you get the most out of your gym experience while keeping safety at the forefront.

Whether recovering from an injury or looking to improve your fitness, call us now to set up a training session.