I decided to write this article after I suffered my third concussion 2 month ago during a Rugby game. My first two experiences happened five years ago when I was abroad in Australia. I got knock out two times in two weeks. It was a scary experience especially the second time when I, apparently, spend about a minute face down on the grass without moving. I said apparently because that is what my teammates told me afterward. I myself had no recognition of even taking part of a rugby game in the first place. What I remember is how terrible I felt just after: the head buzzing, the dizziness, the vomiting…
So today, after my third concussion, I am wondering either or not I should stop playing rugby, something I’ve been doing since I could run, about 18 years. But before I take this decision, I decided to learn a bit more about what could be the end of my rugby career.
So, what is a concussion?
Concussion or mild Traumatic Brain Injury (mTBI). It can be described as a complex pathophysiological process which affects the brain, caused by traumatic biomechanical forces secondary to direct or indirect forces to the head, thus causing the brain to accelerate and decelerate (McCrory and al).
The loss of consciousness isn’t automatic that’s why the detection of mTBI can be some time difficult. Common symptoms include; dizziness, headache, difficulty in concentration, disturbance of vision and proprioception, loss of memory (Guskiewicz et al., 2004).
Neuropsychological post-concussive symptoms include concentration problems, mood disorders (e.g anxiety and depression) and memory problems (Maroon et al 2012).
It has been shown as well that the risk of repeating concussion is higher for people who had concussion before (Guskiewicz et al. 2004).
Further effect can appear after multiple concussions the term used to describe this state is chronic traumatic encephalopathy which correspond to a decline of cognitive functions (vision, verbal memory…).
In another study Guskiewicz also highlighted the possible link between repeated concussions and depression.
What you should do when you get concussed?
If the incident happened during a game, the medical staff should assess you with the Scat5 (sport concussion assessment tool 5). You should afterward see a specialist and probably get a scan especially if that is not the first time you get concussed.
You should lower the intensity of any physical and mental activities as long as you get symptoms.
Can it be prevented?
The only prevention at the moment in sport, would be to teach player the right technique (tackle, rucking….), make sure they play by the rules, and make sure the sport is played in a safe place (padded post, no holes…).
To conclude I would like to say that if you’re confronted by concussion make sure to think twice before going back to your sport or job. I’ve been sideline for 2 month because i try to work with it for only 2 days.