It’s almost football season! In just a few short weeks, players and fans will pack stadiums and fields to play or watch the most popular sport in America. While most people are excited to cheer on their favorite teams, they should also be concerned—football is the most common sport to sustain a concussion. A concussion is an injury to the brain—and it’s serious. The brain is normally well protected by the skull and cerebrospinal fluid however, a forceful blow to the head (or a blow to another part of the body that causes the head to move rapidly) can cause the brain to hit the inner walls of the skull, resulting in injury. Depending on the severity of the injury, it can take weeks, months or even years to fully recover from a concussion.
Symptoms of a Concussion
Keep in mind that symptoms can show up right away or may be delayed for hours or days. If someone is at risk for a concussion, it is important that they be monitored for symptoms even days after the incident occurred.
- Temporary loss of consciousness
- Nausea or vomiting
- Dizziness or trouble balancing
- Double or blurry vision
- Sensitivity to light or noise
- Feeling sluggish, foggy
- Confusion or memory problems
- Slurred speech
- Ringing in the ears
- Changes in mood or behavior including irritability
- Just not feeling right
Diagnosing a Concussion
Computed tomography, also known as a CT scan, may be used to assess the brain right after an injury. A CT scan provides doctors with a detailed view of the skull and brain, which allows them to detect bleeding in the brain, swelling of the brain or a skull fracture.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging, also known as MRI, is typically used to assess the brain after symptoms persist or get worse. MRI is a powerful type of medical imaging that produces extremely detailed pictures of the human anatomy, enabling radiologists to detect even the smallest areas of bleeding, bruising or scarring of the brain.
What To Do When You Suspect a Concussion
Keep the player out of the game away from any further head injury risk and consult a physician who can recommend imaging tests if needed. The Association of Alexandria Radiologists offers CT and MRI imaging at several locations throughout northern Virginia. All exams are interpreted by board certified radiologists.