Whether you’re a weekend warrior or a committed amateur athlete, the risk of concussion isn’t just for those who play contact sports, although those have received the greatest media attention over the last couple of years. In fact, says Jose Posas, MD, neurologist with the Concussion Management Program at Ochsner Health System, adults who participate in high velocity sports, those requiring quick turns, or high intensity exercise such as running hard enough to make conversation impossible, are also at risk.
“What we see in active adults and so-called weekend warriors,” says Dr. Posas, “is it’s not just contact sports like soccer or tackle football. Concussion risk is also especially high for those who bike, ride horses, play pickup sports like basketball or flag football. Anything that requires quick changes in direction, plus climbing or hiking, and rollerblading.”
Medically, concussion is considered a traumatic brain injury, requiring immediate medical assessment and treatment. Once properly treated, anyone with a concussion should follow some standard recovery guidelines. Typically, this means limiting cognitive activities that stimulate the brain for 24-48 hours (as tolerate), such as playing video games, watching TV, reading or studying. If possible, time off from work, especially work requiring intense thinking or concentration, may be recommended.
“Many of my adult patients tend to either skip proper medical care, or, overexert themselves after the initial injury has passed,” he says. “Active adults who’ve had concussion may unintentionally prolong their recovery by returning to work or physical activity too quickly. Don’t let your competitive nature get the better of you.”
Studies show that 90 percent of patients with concussion tend to be fully recovered in seven to 10 days, although the recovery time can extend as long as 14 days or more. Besides returning to activity too soon, other factors such as a personal history of prior concussions, migraines and sleep apnea can also prolong the recovery process.
Concussions can affect performance in a number of other areas of life, especially for adults with high stress occupations or multiple life stressors. “We live in a complex and fast-paced world,” says Dr. Posas. “Combining lack of recovery time with a busy schedule can be a recipe for disaster. Don’t give in to pressure to ‘suck it up.’ Concussion disrupts the wiring of the brain. To heal properly, it needs rest from activity, just like you would rest a pulled muscle.”
Ochsner’s Concussion Management Program is the first and largest of its kind in the Gulf South, using a multi-disciplinary approach to detect and treat concussions. For more information on Ochsner’s Concussion Management Program, or to schedule an appointment, visit www.ochsner.org or call 866-624-7637.