by Jeannie Dalmas

Concussions are an unfortunate side effect of sports. They range in severity from the minor, ďhe just had his bell rungĒ to major, ďhe was knocked clean outĒ. Concussions can occur anytime a rider falls and hits the ground, regardless of how hard they hit the ground. Even the slightest blow can cause a concussion.

What is a concussion? A concussion is the most common head injury. They are a form of brain injury that are caused by a blow to the head. It is an alteration in mental status caused by the brainís being shaken inside the protective skull. A concussion occurs when the body is moving rapidly through space and suddenly stops. Keep in mind that the brain is traveling at the same velocity as the rest of the body. When the body suddenly stops, the brain continues to move at the same velocity in the same direction. The brain then hits the skull and bounces back, hitting the opposite side of the skull until it looses momentum. When the brain strikes the skull, a portion of it is damaged. When enough damage is done, it begins to operate improperly. This is when we notice the symptoms of the concussion.

Each concussion is serious and should not be taken lightly. Look for any damage to a racerís helmet. Even the smallest scratches should be taken seriously if a racer has a history of concussions. The effects of a concussion can be additive or cumulative and the after effects of a concussion, post concussive syndrome, can linger for days, weeks, or months. The bottom line is the safety of the racer! We have only one brain and when itís damaged itís damaged for life. If there is any question with the disposition of a head injury, refer to the proper medical professional. Ambulance crews are available at every race to check a rider, even after he has returned to the paddock.

Above all, donít take anything for granted!

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