A concussion is a head injury caused by a bump or blow to the head. The exact mechanism is not known, but is thought the impact causes the brain to hit the skull, leading to a contusion (or bruising), which may cause headaches, balance issues, loss of memory, and/or irritability. It is important to know how to prevent and minimize your risk of developing this traumatic brain injury in sports, around the house, and as you age. By using a helmet and avoiding serious impacts in sports, picking up around the house, and staying fit as you age, you’ll be better able to prevent concussions.
Method One of Three:
Playing Sports SafelyEdit
1Wear a helmet. In many contact and non-contact sports that carry a potential risk of head injury, helmets are encouraged or required. For instance, when riding a bike or playing football, helmets are used to protect the head, and can prevent concussions.
- Choose a helmet that fits. Depending on your age and the size of your head, your helmet will fit differently than your friend’s helmet. All helmets should fit snugly — but not tightly — with no spaces between the soft foam of the helmet and your head.
- Ensure the helmet you’re wearing is certified for use and worn appropriately. For instance, don’t wear a bike helmet when riding a motorcycle; instead, wear a motorcycle helmet. Similarly, wear your helmet with all straps and fasteners connected securely.
- Wear your helmet every time you engage in an activity that would require a helmet. Make it a part of your activity gear. For instance, when getting ready to play baseball, pack your bag, glove, baseball, and batting helmet.
2Find a qualified supervisor. Ensure someone is present to monitor you and your team when playing a contact sport. Your supervisor could be a coach, physical fitness instructor, doctor or another person. Whoever you have supervising your play, they should be properly trained and qualified to identify situations in which a concussion could occur. If the monitor sees that someone in the game is at risk for a concussion, they must take the necessary steps to prevent it.
3Know the symptoms of concussion. Ask your coach to educate you and your teammates about concussions and their symptoms. For example, they might tell you to watch for nausea, vomiting, slurred speech, confusion, and dizziness following a serious head injury. Concussions can also produce a variety of delayed symptoms such as disrupted sleep patterns, headache, memory problems, difficulty concentrating, and disorders in taste and smell.
- Speak up if you have concussion symptoms. Accept the decision of your coach if they believe you are at risk for a concussion.
- Help your friends and parents understand concussions as well. A culture in which everyone is alert to the dangers of concussions will help prevent them from occurring.
4Strengthen your neck muscles. Athletes with strong neck muscles may be able minimize the high-speed impact of, for instance, a tackle on the football field. Exercises like moving the head up and down, with the chin touching the chest, can strengthen the neck. Moving your head from side to side so that you can look behind you and over your shoulder may also improve neck strength.
5Inspect the playing field. Examine the playing field for holes or uneven terrain. No matter what sport you’re playing, you’re more likely to suffer a concussion if the terrain cannot be easily traversed. Check the field before playing to ensure it is free of holes and patchy areas. Insist that any holes are filled in before beginning play.
- Ensure end posts and equipment are padded. End posts on a football field, or the sides of soccer goals, should be padded to ensure that players do not strike their heads against them accidentally. Sports padding is available from major sporting goods stores and manufacturers of sports equipment.
6Practice good sportsmanship. Good sportsmanship means playing with honor, decency, and a respect for your teammates, yourself, and your opponents. If players are less aggressive on the playing field, they will be less likely to both inflict and suffer concussions.
- Helping others up when they fall (even when they are not your teammates), apologizing and admitting to foul play, and shaking hands at the end of a game are all examples of how you can demonstrate good sportsmanship.
- Do not play with others who will not play by the rules and demonstrate respect for others both on and off the field.
7Don’t engage in full-contact play until you’re of late adolescent age. Children under the age of twelve should not be allowed to engage in full-contact sports such as football, hockey, rugby, boxing, and martial arts. Instead, focus on developing general fitness, agility, and hand-eye coordination in non-contact sports such as baseball, basketball, and golf.
8Use proper technique. In a contact sport like football, using the proper technique to tackle is important in minimizing injuries. Coaches and parents should focus on teaching good technique. For instance, it is not acceptable to "spear," or lead with the head, when tackling. The head should never make contact first — shoulders should be used to hit, not helmets.
- Head-first contact can be observed in sports other than football. It is imperative you emphasize that this is not a safe technique and can lead not only to concussions but also serious neck and cervical-spine injuries.
Method Two of Three:
Keeping Your Home SafeEdit
1Keep stairways safe. Your stairways should be clear of debris. If you have young children, they might be in the bad habit of leaving their toys strewn about. This is especially dangerous near staircases, where the possibility that you trip or slip on a toy could lead to a tumble down the stairs and end up with a concussion or broken bones.
- Use stair gates. If you have little kids running about the house, they might not negotiate stairs as carefully as they should (or at all). Stair gates are low (about one meter high) gates that can extend up to two meters to corral an area off in order to keep pets and young children away. If you want to keep your kids or pets away from the stairs, place a stair gate in front of them in order to deprive them access to the stairs.
- Adding carpet to the stairs to prevent slips.
- Ensure handrails are present to steady yourself when using stairs.
2Keep your home well-lit. If your home is well-lit you will be more likely to see objects in front of you that could cause you to fall. Immediately replace any bulbs that blow, and ensure the lighting illuminates the floors all over the house.
- Don’t get in the bad habit of walking about your home at night with the lights off when you wake to check on your child or go to the bathroom.
3Use appropriate safety equipment when working on your house. For instance, if you’re working on your roof, you should wear a helmet and slip-resistant boots. Always have a spotter hold the ladder steady when you’re climbing it. If you’re changing an overhead light, have a spotter and only stand on a step ladder or chair that doesn’t have wheels to minimize potential movement.
4Clean up spills. If the floor is wet or greasy, someone could step in the spill and slip, leading to a concussion. Avoid this by immediately cleaning up spills with paper towels or damp rags. This is especially common around the kitchen where drinks are most likely to be spilled.
- Prevent spills by drinking out of water bottles and giving children spill-proof cups. Keep cups away from the edge of the table. Move cups and other dishes to the sink when not in use.
5Play on soft ground. If you have a home playground set in your backyard, install woodchips or sand below it. Dirt and grass may seem soft when compared to, say, concrete, but a fall on either can still produce a concussion. The impact of a fall on woodchips or sand, however, is distributed far better than a similar fall on dirt or grass.
- In addition to installing woodchips or sand beneath your own home playset, take your children only to playgrounds where the equipment is installed above soft terrain.
- If your child attends a school where the playground is on dirt or grass, talk with the principal about having some woodchips or sand installed.
Method Three of Three:
Preventing Concussions in AdultsEdit
1Exercise regularly. As you age, your ability to balance declines. Vertigo, unsteadiness, and light-headedness can cause you to feel less confident when walking and may lead to concussive falls. Tai Chi, yoga, and dance are all forms of light exercise that can improve your sense of balance and smooth your movements.
- Try to get at least 30 minutes of exercise five days a week.
2Get checked out for dizziness. Feeling dizzy or lightheaded could cause you to fall, which might result in a concussion. If you are experiencing dizziness, you need to see a doctor for evaluation. There are many potential causes of this that need to be worked up, for instance, heart arrhythmia, anemia, electrolyte imbalance, medication side effects, stroke, and many more.
- Sit or lie down if you feel dizzy. The easiest way to prevent a fall and subsequent concussion is to keep yourself out of situations that could lead to one. Don’t try to power through a vertigo episode or feeling of unsteadiness. This could lead to a head injury.
- Additionally, don’t look at bright lights and TV for a while. Lie down and close your eyes when you feel yourself becoming lightheaded.
3Manage anxiety disorders. Some anxiety disorders, especially those that may cause panic attacks, may cause you to feel woozy or lightheaded. Seek the help of a mental health professional to treat your anxiety.
4Wear a seatbelt when traveling by car. If you are in an automobile accident, you might injure your head. To prevent a head injury and ensure the appropriate application of airbags, wear your seatbelt.
- In addition, always wear a motorcycle helmet when riding a motorcycle or scooter and a bicycle helmet when cycling.