The symptoms of traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) may not show up until long after initial concussions occur. This is often after gradual damage has been done due to repeat injuries.
The seriousness of some injuries can become apparent right away, but this isn’t always the case. Other injuries may appear to be superficial at first, only to develop serious symptoms or become life-threatening days, months, or years after the initial accident. This is often the case with concussions in sports and other head injuries that could lead to potentially fatal TBIs.
How TBIs Can Develop Over Time
Many athletes experience concussions while playing sports, after which they recover immediately or only minutes after impact. Subsequently, many medical professionals don’t treat these injuries appropriately because of the assumed lack of long-term effects. However, after repeat incidents, TBIs may develop and cause significant impairment to the victim.
TBIs typically develop during injury accidents, including car crashes, sports-related accidents, workplace mishaps, or slip and fall incidents. In most cases, symptoms of TBIs will develop immediately after an accident and may include headache, loss of consciousness, confusion, dizziness, or memory loss. However, symptoms sometimes develop later, at which point they’re frequently life-threatening.
Some victims of TBIs develop impairment after years of concussive injuries. In these instances, victims may not even show symptoms until one to ten years after the initial concussions. Due to the lack of symptoms early on, the damage resulting from these concussions may also go unnoticed until extensive damage has taken place, which is often only revealed in brain scans once symptoms develop.
When a TBI is caused by repeat injuries, symptoms may gradually appear, eventually leading to degenerative brain diseases. One increasingly common diagnosis is chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), which is only officially diagnosed postmortem. Many prominent athletes have been diagnosed with this condition and it was ruled a contributing factor to their deaths. At this time, there isn’t a cure for CTE or other forms of brain deterioration resulting from TBIs.
How Athletes Can Avoid TBIs Resulting from Concussions
Even if mild head injuries seem relatively harmless with few to no symptoms immediately after an accident, victims should consult medical professionals as soon as they can to rule out the possibility of extensive damage. In addition, individuals need to take steps to minimize the risk of concussions when engaged in physical activity.
To help prevent concussions and potential TBIs, sports teams should properly equip players with adequate protective gear, including helmets, padding, and other equipment, to keep players safe. Coaches and players should also keep in mind that while helmets offer a degree of protection for players from head injuries, concussions and subsequently serious brain injuries can still develop. If someone sustains a head injury during a sporting event or other occasion, it’s best for him or her to seek medical attention and advice from professionals.
Understanding the risks of head injuries and the potentially latent nature of serious symptoms can help encourage athletes and others to take the necessary steps to minimize the risk of concussions and TBIs.