Concussions: Better safe than sorry

Awab El Ghissassi

Concussion. We all have heard of the word being thrown around in sports discussions and headlines. A commonly held belief is that they only occur in collision sports, such as football and hockey, and that concussions are only characterized by a terrible hit to the head that causes a loss of consciousness. Movie star Natasha Richarson tragically learned that the contrary held true.

Ms. Richardson had signed up for a  ski lesson on Monday, March 16, 2009  a warm, windless day. Ms. Richardson was on a locality referred to as the flats when she fell near her instructor. Nobody is aware of precisely what caused the fall, however it caused effects that were worrying enough for an ambulance to be called. She refused medical treatment, claiming that she was fine. She was woefully mistaken. On March 18th she died from a concussion caused by a traumatic brain injury from the seemingly harmless fall.

Many unavoidable facts can be derived from this cautionary tale. Any sudden blow to the head or body can lead to shaking of the brain and it’s stem, which can lead to a serious imbalance of chemicals and death of brain cells. The quite terrifying part of it all it that neither a CT or MRI scan can find a concussion, so it is imperative that symptoms are reported and appropriate action occurs.

In sports, the situation can become more of a tough decision. Athletes may want to stay in the game, and “tough it out”. However, the CDC recommends the opposite, stating that if any concussion symptoms are noticed after a hit to the head or body, “Remove the athlete from play…ensure that the athlete is evaluated by a healthcare professional.” Complications from another blow can lead to serious health risks, including death.

Remember, better safe than sorry.