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Orthopedic Partners
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Healthy Living:
How to Handle a Head Injury
By Jonathan Piposar
A hard hit to the head has the potential to alter the ionic balance in the brain, reducing the brain’s energy and causing symptoms we associate with a concussion.
As an orthopedic surgeon specializing in sports medicine, I’d like to offer some general advice on what to do when a head injury occurs.
A minor head bump is not likely to cause a concussion, but a child falling off a bike, a football player taking a direct hit to the helmet, or perhaps two lacrosse or soccer players colliding on the field — these kinds of powerful impacts need to be taken seriously.
No matter what your activity may be, if a significant head injury occurs — if you are feeling dizzy, if your vision is blurred or you feel nauseous — stop the activity immediately and rest.
The macho attitude of toughing it out or shaking it off and getting back out there is a dangerous game plan.
A child or adult who continues a sport or activity with a concussion runs the risk of suffering another injury, as a person with an injured brain is not at full capacity to protect his or her body. The smart strategy for any parent or coach: When it doubt, keep ’em out.
Some people falsely believe that a concussion means getting knocked unconscious, but only about 10 percent of concussions result in any loss of consciousness. Coaches should immediately pull a player off the field if a head injury has occurred. The player should then be carefully monitored.
Evaluate the injured person’s mental and physical cognition while they rest. See if they start to feel any better. If symptoms are getting progressively worse, it is time to see a doctor or even go to an emergency room. In serious cases of head injury, a brain bleed could cause a life-threatening condition.
In most cases, a person with a concussion just needs rest. It’s OK for the patient to nap, but it’s important to keep evaluating the patient’s status. Motrin or Tylenol are OK to take, but avoid any mind-altering medications. Adults should not drink.
Most concussions get better within a week. During that recovery, the patient should rest not only physically, but cognitively, such as staying off the computer. Only after all symptoms have gone away should the person should begin a slow and systematic return to activity. An athlete should return to his or her sport slowly, with mild cardiovascular exercise first, followed by practice sessions. If any symptoms return, back off and rest more.
Parents and student athletes should remember: don’t be the hero. You’re not playing in the Super Bowl. The goal is patient safety and your long-term health. So take a time-out and let your brain heal, because down the road, when you’re ready, there will always be another chance to get back in the game.
As Published in The Norwich Bulletin, Tuesday 5/30/2017
Dr. Jonathan Piposar is an orthopedic surgeon at Orthopedic Partners, and on the medical staff at Lawrence + Memorial Hospital.
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Our own Kelly Roth rode 26 miles in the Tour de Lyme Bike ride!

Thanks to all who stopped by to say hi at our booth!!
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