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Concussions: not just for athletes

Bryn Mawr Rehab Hospital February 4, 2014 General Wellness

In conversations about concussions and head trauma, most advice about prevention and treatment tends to focus on athletes at any level. But concussions aren’t only a risk on the field.“Sports aren’t the only opportunity for concussions to occur,” explains Troy Norton, Outpatient Operations Manager at Bryn Mawr Rehab Hospital. “You can be at risk for a concussion almost anywhere, including at home and in the car. So many people overlook the risks that are presented in our everyday environments.”

The best place to begin making safety changes is at home. While most people tend to associate falls with seniors, toddlers and young children are also at an increased risk for trips and slips. Try to reduce the number of throw rugs in walkways, and use nonslip liners on those that you do have. Follow the same guidelines for the shower—look for nonslip mats in the bathtub and floors.

“When you have children running around, it’s easy for them to slip and fall. Usually it’s just a bump or a bruise, but there’s still the risk for them to hit their head on a hard surface, like a cabinet door or hardwood floor,” says Norton.

And, although it’s easier said than done in a full house, try to reduce the amount of clutter in walkways and high-traffic areas. Use gates to restrict certain areas of the house that might prevent added risk.

Keep in mind that the backyard can also be a spot where severe injury can occur. It’s not just professional football players that are at risk for a head injury. Bikes, scooters, roller blades, skateboards, and other neighborhood favorites can also present a serious risk. Ensure supervised play, avoid bumpy terrain, and try to limit outdoor activities to during the daytime to reduce the risk of concussions or other serious injuries. Anytime you're participating in an outdoor activity like biking, rollerblading, or skateboarding, make sure helmets and protective gear are also involved.

“Wherever you are, it’s about being smart,” says Norton. “Head trauma can happen at any moment and, if it does, you should seek medical attention immediately.”