Watch our interview with Shelina Babul, BSc PHD, a specialist in concussions/traumatic brain injuries and their prevention, recognition, treatment and management. If you suspect a concussion, seek medical attention at your nearest hospital immediately.

Watch Ashley Keller speak with Shelina Babul about the importance of recovering from a concussion.

Visit Shelina Babul’s Concussion Awareness Training Tool to learn more.

Signs and symptoms can include: 

  • Headache
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fatigue or drowsiness
  • Blurry vision
  • Confusion or feeling as if in a fog
  • Amnesia surrounding the traumatic event
  • Dizziness or “seeing stars”
  • Temporary loss of consciousness (though this doesn’t always occur)
  • Slurred speech
  • Delayed response to questions
  • Dazed appearance
  • Forgetfulness, such as repeatedly asking the same question
  • Concentration and memory complaints
  • Irritability and other personality changes
  • Sensitivity to light and noise
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Psychological adjustment problems and depression
  • Disorders of taste and smell

Long term complications of concussion can include:

  • Post concussion syndrome
  • Headaches
  • Vertigo
  • Second impact syndrome
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Memory problems
  • Irritability and other personality changes
  • Sensitivity to light and noise
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Depression and other psychological problems
  • Disorders of smell and taste

Mental health changes can include:

  • Mood swings
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • PTSD
  • Suicidal ideation
Video transcript:
Concussions are a common minor traumatic brain injury usually caused by a blow to the head. 

The effects are typically temporary and should go away within a month.

According to Mayo Clinic, signs of a concussion include headaches, problems with concentration, memory, balance, and coordination. You may even pass out.

Dr. Shelina Babul is the Associate Director & Sports Injury Specialist at the BC Injury Research & Prevention Unit. Se created the Concussion Awareness Training Tool.

“When you sustain a concussion or suspected concussion and you don’t recognize it and you continue to participate in your activity, whether that is sport, or continuing to work, or outdoor recreational activities, you are now 3 times more likely to sustain a second concussion, potentially more severe in nature, and prolonging your recovery."

“Again, if that is not recognized and you still continue to participate in activity, you are now nine times more likely to have potentially significant brain damage, and in the rare instance, possibly even death.”

Dr. Babul used the example of an earthquake to illustrate what happens to your brain when concussed. 

"When there’s an earthquake, you get fractures in the road and cars can’t proceed through the road until the road is repaired.”

“And that is exactly what happens to your brain when there is a suspected concussion. It needs time, it needs 48 hours of immediate physical and cognitive rest so that the brain can repair and heal, so that your information can again be processed as it was."

“Your brain is your information highway that allows you to walk, to talk, to eat, to hear. You’ve only got one brain, it’s the only organ that you cannot transplant…”

“…so we want people to really heed the warning to understand if you’re feeling signs and symptoms of a concussion, stop what you are doing, get a diagnosis, and get the right treatment and management.”

A common piece of advice is to keep a concussed person awake or to wake them up every hour, but Dr. Babul urges against this technique, citing that it’s actually counterproductive.

“The reason you don’t wake them up is because you want them to sleep throughout the night." 

"Because when you are waking them up, essentially you are waking up the brain and you are not giving it that time to heal and repair. So, unfortunately a lot of people don’t recognize that.”

“You let the individual sleep. You monitor them for normal breathing, normal skin colour. But you do let them sleep throughout the night.”

As far as sleep goes, there are recommendations for how much rest to get during different points in your recovery.

“As much rest as possible within the 48 hours. Beyond 48 hours, we do not recommend oversleeping.”

“You want to try to get back to your normal pattern of daily living, your normal activity and you don’t want to oversleep. Because that actually hinders your recovery.”

“You also want to slowly start exercising at a gradual pace as tolerated. So you want to do a little bit every day."

“Increasing your heart rate, waiting 24 hours to see if you have new or worsening symptoms. If you don’t, you progress to the next stage. If you do, you regress back to the previous stage, wait 24 hours, and try again.”

“And this is part of a 6 stage return to activity, return to work, return to sport protocol that is available on the concussion awareness training tool.”

Linked below, the concussion awareness training tool can be an essential part of learning how to recognize signs and symptoms of a concussion.

It offers different resources for different scenarios to help you on your road to recovery, and courses are offered in both English and French.

Since signs and symptoms can appear suddenly within 48 hours of the initial trauma, it is important to stay vigilant and know what to look for.

Ashley Keller, The Health Insider.
You May Also Like
Read More

Alleviating Loneliness for Longevity

Loneliness profoundly affects neurological health, in fact it's as bad as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Learn more about who is lonely in Canada and what to do about it.