Let’s take a look at concussion, AKA mild Traumatic Brain Injury (mTBI).
The brain is made of soft tissue, which is cushioned by spinal fluid and encased in the protective shell of the skull. When you sustain a concussion, the impact can shake your brain, literally causing it to move around, impacting the inside of your skull. The trauma is suffered by the brain itself, and can be suffered without direct trauma to the head.
Blows to the head that involve an element of traction to the neck, rotation of the head, or setting up a whiplash-type movement are those most likely to result in concussion.
As concussion is an injury sustained inside the skull, padding the outside of the skull (eg a scrum cap) provides no protection from concussion – no more so than padding the back of a cricket bat makes the front any less solid. It is worth noting that you can lose consciousness without suffering concussion, and can suffer concussion without losing consciousness. It is also worth noting that the victim is often the least reliable person to say if a loss of consciousness occurred. Loss of consciousness itself is considered to mean concussion until proven otherwise, but is far from the only sign to look out for.
The principal concern with concussion isn’t so much for the concussion itself, but for potential complications; such as Post-Concussion Syndrome, Second-Impact Syndrome, Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy or Traumatic Brain Injury (that isn’t mild).
The most immediately concerning is Second-Impact Syndrome – a second concussion suffered before the first has completely recovered. This is the reason that any sportsperson MUST be removed from the field immediately and until Return To Play Protocols have been completed if there is even a suspicion of concussion.
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