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you watch professional sports or television hospital dramas, you've
probably seen the flurry of activity that surrounds a head injury, perhaps you've even had one yourself. A mild traumatic brain injury
(MTBI) can feel like a close call, but what many people do not realize
is that even though the injury could have been worse, a mild head injury
can be a serious health concern.
Q. What is a mild traumatic brain injury?Also
known as a concussion or mild head injury, a MTBI occurs when the brain
has been harmed due to a jolt to the head that causes the nerve cells
in the brain to be stretched, torn or bruised. The symptoms may be as
minor as a headache or as severe as confusion and vomiting.
Q. What causes these head injuries?Most
MTBIs are the result of falls, sports injuries and car accidents, but
it's important to know that you don't actually have to hit your head at
all to sustain an injury. Whiplash, for example, can cause the brain to
be pushed against the skull and can lead to a brain injury.
Q. Why is it important for me to know about head injuries?The
effects of a head injury build on each other, which means that if you
have a second head injury before your original injury fully heals, your
risk permanent brain damage or even death increases. That's why health
experts typically recommend no contact sports, strenuous activities or
other risky behaviors that can cause a second head injury for at least
two weeks after the symptoms have resolved completely. Your doctor will
also let you know when it's safe to drive again and when you can return
Q. How long does it take to recover?Most
people recover in three to seven days without any significant
complications. However, some people can experience ongoing symptoms that
are disruptive to their lives. If symptoms last more than a week, call
Q. How is a mild head injury diagnosed?A
MTBI is diagnosed according to the symptoms a person is experiencing
immediately or hours following the traumatic event. A diagnosis of
post-concussive syndrome is made when a person has ongoing symptoms days
or even weeks after the incident. A concussion does not show up on a CT
scan or MRI, but these may be performed to rule out a brain injury
requiring immediate attention.
Adventist Hospital has a program to treat mild head injuries. Patients
who are suspected of having mild head injuries are followed closely by a
therapist specially trained in cognitive therapy. The therapist checks
for symptoms such as forgetfulness, inability to concentrate,
irritability or depression. If the patient exhibits any symptoms, the
therapist works with the patient's physician to design a rehabilitation
program. To learn more about mild head injuries, call the Parker Adventist Center for Rehabilitation & Sports Medicine at 303-269-4590. For more information download the Understanding Concussions brochure.
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