Concussions are an injury that has been drastically misunderstood for many years. Physicians used to believe that a concussion was produced by bleeding in the brain after the body suffers acute trauma triggering the brain to hit the inside wall of the skull. However, as our understanding of concussions increases, medical physicians now understand that concussions have a stronger correlation to the axon terminal rather than the brain hitting the interior wall of the skull.
The process of a signal being sent from the nucleus goes through many stages, starting with an afferent signal being received by the dendrites, followed by an efferent signal being sent through the axons to the next neuron. The axon is where concussions occur, it is the axon itself that is stretched and damaged, causing inflammation in the brain, and a multitude of disruption: dizziness, fogginess, memory loss, and equilibrium loss. The further understanding of concussions that physicians now have is crucial in both identifying them, and understanding how to treat them.
A common concern with concussions is that athletes are often being cleared to return to action far too soon just because their symptoms seem to be gone. However, even though there may be no visible signs or symptoms, does not mean that the athlete is ready to enter competition again. Concussion symptoms can increase at the onset of certain activities or certain environments, which is why it is crucial to take a slow, tedious, progressive system in returning an athlete to their sport.
Another overlooked element of concussions is mental fatigue of being in school. It is very common that student athletes are diagnosed with a concussion and pulled from their sport, but maintain a regular day to day routine with being at school, trying to focus in lectures, and writing examinations. Physicians now understand that concussions directly affect an individual’s ability to focus, which is why a student should not be in class or writing any type of examination directly after receiving a concussion.
There are many tests that need to be completed prior to an athlete being cleared to either re-enter the classroom, training environment, or competition itself. Through the rehabilitation process, the individual needs to be able to complete very light aerobic exercise without inducing any of the symptoms they felt after the incident. Upon successful completion of this aerobic test, we want to slightly induce the symptoms of the concussion in a controlled environment, so that the body can get used to completing these movements necessary for integration back into everyday life without the side effects of the concussion. Only then, can an individual be reintegrated into their daily routines and slowly work their way back into competition.
- Photo can be found on Google Photos Search: Motor Neuron Complex