The final injury we will discuss in this series is concussion. A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury (TBI) that causes a temporary disturbance in the function of the brain, and leads to symptoms such as dizziness/balance issues, headache, nausea, confusion, memory loss, grogginess and even psychological symptoms such as depression, anger, frustration, etc. Those in contact with a concussed individual may note delayed response time, memory loss in inconsistency, a dazed appearance, and personality changes. While direct trauma to the head is the most common cause of concussion, it may also be caused by high impact trauma to other parts of the body.
Anyone experiencing these symptoms should seek medical evaluation and should not return to the ski slopes until they have been cleared by a doctor. Further head injury post-concussion can lead to a “second impact syndrome”, which can have serious, and potentially even fatal consequences.
Rehabilitation from a concussion initially involves relative rest not only from physical activity but also from cognitively demanding tasks to allow the brain to rest and recover. From here, loading of the brain needs to be progressed gradually in the form of both exercise and cognitive stress. The individual concussion symptoms that the patient reports should be used to guide progression. Any worsening in symptoms requires a regression in load.
Assessment by a physiotherapist can help identify any residual impairments within the vestibular and oculomotor systems, as well as concurrent injury to the neck, all of which will require more specialised rehab programs.
Some people will be safe to return to skiing and snowboarding in 2 weeks, although in some cases with more complicated contributing factors and underlying physical and mental conditions, recovery can take months.