5 Things You Need To Know About Repetitive Head Injury Syndrome
One concussion is bad enough, but the effects of repetitive head injuries are even worse. If you suffer a second concussion before your first concussion has healed, you may suffer from long-term health effects. This phenomenon is known as repetitive head injury syndrome and it is a big problem for athletes. Here are five things that athletes need to know about repetitive head injury syndrome.
What are the signs of repetitive head injury syndrome?
There are many different signs of repetitive head injury syndrome. If you have this condition, you may notice that you have trouble paying attention or concentrating, and you may find that you are more forgetful than you used to be. You may even lose the ability to create new memories.
People with repetitive head injury syndrome may also have trouble sleeping. You may find that you lose consciousness without warning or notice sudden changes in your mental status. Repetitive head injury syndrome can also cause persistent headaches. If you notice any of these symptoms, stop playing sports immediately and seek medical attention.
How common is repetitive head injury syndrome?
Repetitive head injury syndrome is a fairly common problem. One study found that one-fifth of college football players had suffered two or more concussions during their athletic careers. A study of amateur soccer players found that 23% of them had suffered between two and five concussions during their careers. These studies suggest that a significant number of athletes are affected by this condition.
How serious is this condition?
Repetitive head injury syndrome is a major concern because of the effect that it can have on your quality of life. The multiple injuries you've suffered to your brain may leave you unable to function normally. This doesn't just mean that you won't be able to play sports anymore; your entire life can be affected. For example, your cognitive and memory problems may leave you unable to hold down a job or maintain relationships.
How is repetitive head injury syndrome treated?
If you suffer from persistent headaches, you may be told to take over-the-counter pain medications. If necessary, prescription painkillers may be prescribed. Once your pain is under control, your doctor may refer you to an occupational therapist for further treatment.
Occupational therapists help you learn ways to deal with your condition so that you can continue living your life as normally as possible, despite your injury. For example, your occupational therapist may teach you to use notes or phone alarms to remind yourself to do things. You may learn new strategies for keeping track of your memories, such as keeping a diary.
Your occupational therapist may recommend other tips to help you stay safe despite your impairment. For example, if you are prone to losing consciousness and cannot drive safely, your occupational therapist can help you locate alternative transportation methods that are safe for you. You may also be told to use household appliances that are less likely to cause a fire if you forget about them; for example, you may be told to use the microwave instead of the stove.
How can athletes prevent this condition?
Since repetitive head injury syndrome cannot be treated, just managed, you need to try your best to prevent it. Make sure to wear a helmet while you're playing sports, and if you suffer a head injury, stop playing right away. Do not try to play through the head injury, even if your coach wants you to.
If you suffer a concussion, do not return to sports until your doctor has cleared you for the activity. This may mean that you need to sit out the rest of the season, but it will help to keep you safe. Once your brain is completely healed, you can return to sports.
Repetitive head injury syndrome can have a serious effect on your quality of life, so if you suffer a concussion, stay away from sports until you are completely healed. If you think you may already have repetitive head injury syndrome, talk to your doctor or other primary care physician, such as those at Rural Health Services Consortium Inc., right away.