Physical activity and organized sports is a great way to stay in shape, improve teamwork and sportsmanship, and have fun. One thing to take into consideration when engaging in sports is that sports-related injuries are all too common. This is especially true when playing contact sports such as football and rugby. The list of potential injuries is long and can include sprains, fractures, and even concussions.
Concussions are mild traumatic brain injuries that can result from a sudden impact to the head or from violent shaking, as in the case of whiplash. Six different types of concussions have been identified and described by medical experts. If you are familiar with them, you will be better prepared should this happen to you or someone you know. We will go over the various types of concussion trajectories to understand the symptoms and potential treatments. It is essential to seek medical help following a sports-related concussion.
- Cognitive Trajectory: This trajectory is by far the most common and results from a light concussion. This trajectory leads to reduced concentration and difficulty in learning and retaining new information. These symptoms can also lead to heightened fatigue, as the brain works overtime to process information.
- Vestibular Trajectory: This type of concussion affects the balance center of the brain leading to reduced head and eye coordination and dizziness. This is a common form of concussion seen in about a third of all concussion injuries. Those suffering from vestibular injury are treated by challenging the patient in complicated environments and retraining the brain to cope with various external stimuli.
- Ocular Trajectory: The ocular trajectory-type of concussion affects the movement of the eyes and sometimes the coordinated movement of the eyes together, known as the Chameleon Effect. This type of injury is also quite common and presents in about a third of all concussion patients. Other symptoms associated with ocular concussion injury include headaches and fatigue, normal side effects often seen in injuries where vision is affected. Treatment is similar to that given for vestibular concussion, with the additional input of optometrists to deal specifically with the patient’s vision.
- PTM (Post-Traumatic Migraine) Concussion: Post-traumatic migraine concussion is very common and typically requires the longest recovery times. Here the usual symptoms are headaches, sensitivity to light and sound, nausea, and dizziness. Neurologically, memory is also impaired in this type of concussion. Treatment for this form of concussion is primarily behavioral, ensuring the patient eats and sleeps properly, drinks enough fluids, and keeps stress levels down.
- Cervical Trajectory: The cervical trajectory may occur if the blow to the head impacted the neck or the spinal cord. This type of concussion is often seen with the others discussed above and can lead to frequent headaches in addition to the other symptoms described.
- Anxiety Trajectory: The anxiety trajectory is often seen in patients who worry or have increased anxiety due to their concussion. There is often a wealth of information online regarding their condition, and all too often it is unclear or contradictory. This can lead to confusion and heightened anxiety. The treatment course here is to get the patients physically active and to exert energy.
In essence, the treatment course can vary greatly from one form of concussion to the next. It is therefore critical to seek medical attention to properly diagnose the correct trajectory of a patient’s concussion and to get them started on the optimal treatment program which will shorten recovery times and get them back out onto the field.