A sports injury specialist in concussions explains why immediately recognizing and responding to concussion-causing events is so important.
In my previous post, Stunt performers join forces to tackle concussion, I wrote about stunt performers too often repeating a stunt, even when they are feeling effects of concussion from a prior attempt.
Concussions affect other workers too. In 2017, WorkSafeBC accepted more than 2,700 claims for concussion. About 50 percent of these workers returned to work within 2 weeks, but up to 35 percent experienced work disability for more than 12 weeks. (Read more in this BC Medical Journal article from May 2020.)
In this second part of my focus on concussion, I spoke with Dr. Shelina Babul, Associate Director and Sports Injury Specialist with the BC Injury Research and Prevention Unit at BC Children’s Hospital. Dr Babul specializes in concussions and examines trends and patterns of concussions in B.C.
Recognizing and responding to concussions
Concussions can result from any blow to the head, face, neck, or other parts of the body that receive enough force to move the brain around inside the skull. Without immediate recognition and appropriate management, it can lead to permanent injury or even death.
“It is imperative that a concussion is recognized immediately — and responded to immediately,” says Dr. Babul. “If you don’t recognize an initial concussion and you continue to participate in the activity, you are three times more likely to sustain a second concussion. In addition, your recovery could be prolonged beyond the normal two- to four-week recovery period.”
And, if you continue participating after a second concussion, you are nine times more likely to sustain significant brain damage and possibly even death. Says Dr. Babul: “That’s why it is imperative to recognize it immediately, respond immediately, and take 48 hours of physical and cognitive rest to allow your brain to heal.”
Concussion awareness training tool
Dr. Babul developed the Concussion Awareness Training Tool (CATT). It includes a series of online eLearning modules and associated resources, tailored for specific audiences including medical professionals, school staff, parents, athletes and workers and workplaces. The tool was created to help people recognize, diagnose, treat, and manage concussions to decrease the risk of brain damage and potentially reduce long-term health issues.
Dr. Babul wants everyone to know the symptoms of concussion, which include:
- Neck pain or tenderness
- Double vision
- Weakness or tingling/burning in arms or legs
- Severe or increasing headache
- Increasingly restless, agitated, or combative behaviour
- Deteriorating conscious state
- Seizure or convulsion
- Loss of consciousness
Concussion Awareness Week in B.C.
Provinces across Canada are establishing annual concussion awareness events. Here in B.C., the first-ever Concussion Awareness Week will be held Sept. 26 to Oct, 2, 2021. Watch for billboards at the Massey Tunnel, the Alex Fraser Bridge, and Tsawwassen, as well as elsewhere in the province.
A social media campaign will also be launched throughout the province in September (I’ll repost information on my Facebook page @speakinofsafety).
Thank you to Dr. Babul for speaking with me and for working to raise awareness of this important issue, which affects so many people.