Out of nowhere, I had blurry vision. Lines across my eyesight limited me to only seeing shadows and outlines of my friends and their bikes. Was I going blind? What is this? Man, I have a splitting headache. The next minute I was sitting on a rouge concrete block with my bike leaning against me, eating my lunch. My vision was slowly coming back. It was as if I was moving forward in time like in the Limitless movie unsure of what had happened in the previous hours. Flapjack in my hand, flapjack has gone and packed away. Wait what, who ate my flapjack? Where did that scratch come from on my bike? Shortly after, unclear of how long had passed I projectile vomited all over my bike with a technicoloured rainbow of flapjack, morning porridge and what I think were electrolytes from my reservoir. Something I had never experienced before but these were all telltale signs and symptoms of concussion and a head injury. Will I be able to ride my bike again? Will I ride as fast as I did? What should I do?
“Only 10% of concussions result from loss of consciousness. All impacts, even the smallest, with no way to track increase the risk of undiagnosed, unmonitored impacts to the head resulting in long-term side effects and confusion in returning from a head injury... 10,000G’s significantly increases the risk of CTE in later life.” Boston Medical
What is a Concussion?
A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury (TBI) that occurs when the brain is shaken or jolted in some way. It is most commonly caused by a blow to the head but it can also occur due to a jolt or shake to the body. While the effects of a concussion vary from person to person, there are some common signs and symptoms that can indicate the presence of a concussion. Here at HIT we can give you an early indication of the severity of a head impact.
“There is a greater understanding amongst the medical community that brain injuries are caused by impacts to the head but they also recognise there is no current solution to track frequency and magnitude of these impacts.” Professor Angus Hunter
Signs Of Concussion From A Mountain Biking Prospective
In the case of downhill Mountain biking we admire some of the worlds best athletes who are mentally and physically strong, pushing the limits. Constantly they risk performance over injury. A rider at the highest level needs to have, not 'a screw loose' but guts and focus. The terrain pushes our riders to the edges in an attempt to test, but heightens the risk for entertainment. One mistake can cost you the win on a 2-3min run. One mistake can cost you a few brain cells too.
Athletes know their bodies and can often ride with an injury. There is an element of riding through and/or an injury being this badge of honor. If you take a big hit and get up, you are admired by other riders. There is an element of pressure to keep training or riding, mostly from ourselves as we search for that perfect run. Pressure can come from coaches or sponsors as internally we do not want to let anyone down. It is important to note that you only get one head and that is doesn’t repair like a broken collarbone or leg does. One initial head impact may not be too serious but if it causes cognitive impairment and you continue to ride you are at risk of getting a second concussion in quick succession. Then the consequences could be much more severe.
Recognise the impact with HIT+, remove from riding and get assessed.
What are some of the symptoms of Concussion
While it's easy to think of a concussion as something that only happens to elite athletes, it is common throughout all age groups and experience levels. It's important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of a concussion to have a more successful recovery. A concussion can happen as early as primary school and young children can even be more susceptible to a concussion as their brain is still developing. A serious concussion or TBI can have a massive impact on the quality of a young persons life.
Here are some signs to watch out for that may indicate a person has suffered a concussion:
- Headache: A headache is one of the most common signs of concussion. It can range from a mild ache to severe, throbbing pain.
- Dizziness: Dizziness and balance problems can be signs of a concussion. People may feel unsteady on their feet or have difficulty focusing their eyes.
- Nausea or Vomiting: Nausea and vomiting can occur after a concussion and can last for several hours.
- Memory Loss: Memory loss, or difficulty remembering recent events, is a common symptom of concussion.
- Confusion: People with a concussion may be confused or disoriented, and may not be able to think clearly or concentrate.
- Sensitivity to Light or Sound: People with a concussion may be sensitive to light or sound, and may feel uncomfortable in bright or loud environments.
- Fatigue: Fatigue or feeling tired all the time is a common sign of concussion.
It's important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of a concussion, as prompt treatment is essential for a full recovery. If you suspect someone has suffered a concussion, seek medical attention immediately.
Understanding Concussion Symptoms
Head injuries can be extremely serious, and while the term “concussion” may bring to mind only the most severe cases, even a mild concussion can cause long-term damage if not treated properly. Getting an early indication of a head impact and the g-force or rotational force with a HIT device can help give you the complete picture of the impact on your brain.
The most common symptoms of a concussion include headaches, dizziness, confusion, ringing in the ears, nausea, blurred vision, sensitivity to light or noise, changes in sleeping patterns, difficulty concentrating, fatigue, memory loss, and mood swings. In some cases, a person may also experience loss of consciousness or amnesia. It is important to note that these symptoms may not appear immediately and an athlete can suffer from a delayed concussion.
The sooner a concussion is diagnosed and treated, the better the outcome will be. It is also important to note that some concussion symptoms may not become apparent until days or even weeks after the initial injury as mentioned above a delayed concussion. This is why it is important to monitor yourself or the injured person for any changes in behavior or symptoms.
'Research shows that people who have experienced a concussion are more likely to suffer from depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues. They are also more likely to suffer from memory problems and difficulty concentrating. '
What is Post-Concussion Syndrome?
Most people who experience a concussion will recover completely, some may experience long-term effects such as post-concussion syndrome. Post-concussion syndrome is a condition in which symptoms persist for months or even years after the initial injury. Symptoms of post-concussion syndrome can include headaches, dizziness, fatigue, difficulty sleeping, and cognitive impairment. While there is more research that has been completed on head impacts and g-Force there is relatively little research on the rotational force. Rotational force can cause a shearing effect on the brain that can in some cases be more impactful compared to a blunt force head impact. The brain is a complex organ so it is difficult to identify a set procedure or protocol for recovery. There is no one size fits all. It is normally managed on a case-by-case basis and a gradual return to play or sport.
The Importance Of Early Diagnosis Of Concussion
Early diagnosis and treatment can help ensure a full recovery and reduce the risk of long-term effects.
“Concussion is a brain injury that requires prompt recognition and appropriate management,” says Dr. Andrew Russman, a neurologist at the Cleveland Clinic. "The first step is to recognise the signs and symptoms of a concussion, ranging from mild to severe".
Early diagnosis or detection of a G-Force above 60gs can help validate an impact and remove the grey area for when to continue riding and when not to. Here at HIT we hope to design a device that not only helps improve performance but gives athletes real-time head impact data. Real-time head impact data will allow athletes and coaches to make informed decisions about when athletes should be removed from play. Should the rider be out on the trials by himself and sustain a huge crash over and above 60Gs and be unresponsive our built-in crash detection will come into effect and send out notifications to emergency contacts and in the worst cases notify Mountain Rescue with your exact coordinates.
Different Types Of Concussion Symptoms
Here at HIT we hope that you understand the symptoms of concussion much better. Concussion symptoms can vary depending on the severity and can include physical, cognitive, emotional, and sleep-related symptoms. If symptoms worsen please seek medical attention. #PROTECTYOURNOGGIN
Below is a recap of what we have already explored to cement that learning.
Physical Symptoms Of Concussion
Common physical concussion symptoms include headache, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and balance problems. Other symptoms can include sensitivity to light and sound, blurred vision, ringing in the ears, confusion, and difficulty thinking. A person may also experience fatigue, difficulty sleeping, and a lack of energy.
Cognitive Symptoms Of Concussion
Cognitive symptoms of concussion can include difficulty concentrating, memory problems, and slowed thinking. A person with a concussion may also have difficulty following directions, understanding complex tasks, and communicating clearly. They may also have difficulty making decisions and solving problems.
Emotional Symptoms of Concussion
Emotional symptoms of a concussion can include irritability, anxiety, depression, and mood swings
When to go to A&E after experiencing symptoms of Concussion
You or your friend, family member or child have had a head injury and have:
- been knocked out or problems remembering
- vomited (been sick) since the injury
- a headache that does not go away with painkillers
- a change in behaviour, like being more irritable or losing interest
- been drinking alcohol or taking drugs just before the injury
- had an accident or concussion recently
- Fallen from a height
- Clear fluid coming from their eyes or nose
- Had a head impact at speed in a car accident or riding your bike
How to care for a minor head injury or you have signs of concussion
If you have been sent home from the hospital with a minor head injury, or you feel that you do not need to go to the hospital, you can usually self-treat at home. Using a HIT device will give you a much greater indication of the severity of the impact and help you make a more data-driven decision with regard to treatment.
You might have symptoms of concussion, such as a slight headache or feeling sick or dazed, for up to 2 weeks. Some of the following may help as per the NHS concussion guidelines.
- hold an ice pack (or a bag of frozen peas in a tea towel) to the area regularly for short periods in the first few days to bring down any swelling
- rest and avoid stress – you or your child do not need to stay awake if you're tired
- take painkillers such as paracetamol for headaches
There is so much more that can be done but as per the NHS this is your basic advice.
Do Not's When Dealing With Symptoms of Concussion
- do not go back to work or school until you're feeling better
- do not drive until you feel you have fully recovered
- Do not get back on your bike
- do not play contact sports for at least 3 weeks – children should avoid rough play for a few days and contact sports should follow the governing bodies return to play protocols.
- do not take drugs or drink alcohol until you're feeling better
- do not take sleeping pills while you're recovering
Other treatments that may help you recover from signs of a concussion
While there is no substitute for seeking medical attention and following evidence-based concussion protocols, there are some unconventional or lesser-known methods that have been suggested for concussion recovery.
One such method is the use of lion's mane mushrooms, which have been traditionally used in Chinese medicine and have recently gained attention as a potential treatment for neurological disorders.
'A small study published in the Journal of Dietary Supplements in 2019 suggested that lion's mane mushrooms may help improve cognitive function and reduce inflammation in people with mild cognitive impairment, but more research is needed to determine their effectiveness for concussion recovery.'
Other alternative therapies for Concussion or TBI
Alternative concussion recovery include acupuncture, yoga, and meditation, all of which have been studied to some extent for their potential to improve cognitive function, reduce inflammation, and alleviate symptoms such as headache and fatigue. However, more research is needed to determine their effectiveness for concussion recovery.
Red Light Therapy For Concussion Recovery
There is limited evidence to support the use of red light therapy for concussion recovery. Red light therapy, also known as low-level laser therapy, involves the use of red or near-infrared light to promote healing and reduce inflammation. While some studies have suggested that red light therapy may help reduce pain and inflammation in people with traumatic brain injury, including concussion, the evidence is still limited and more research is needed to determine its effectiveness.
A systematic review of studies published in 2020 in the Journal of Neurotrauma concluded that there is limited evidence to support the use of red light therapy for traumatic brain injury, including concussion. While some studies have shown promising results, the authors noted that many of the studies were small and had limitations, such as a lack of blinding, randomisation, or control groups.
Creatine Supplementation For Concussion Recovery
Creatine is a naturally occurring substance found in the body that is involved in energy metabolism and has been suggested to have potential neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory effects. Overall, while the studies on the use of creatine supplementation for concussion recovery are promising, more research is needed to determine its effectiveness and safety.
This post is to educate and help you identify the signs and symptoms of concussion. If you are concerned about a friend, family member or yourself please recognise the head impact with a HIT device or not. Remove yourself from the activity and get assessed by a medical professional.
Dude that line you hit was unreal, you were going so fast you caught that rock I spotted and you just went flying over the handlebars, it was epic…are you sure you are OK? Your bike is sweet by the way it just has a small scratch but how is your head? You will be alright…no wait what does your HIT+ device say, 67Gs!! Let’s walk you out and get you to a doctor.