Don’t lose your head


By | Bryan Donoghue

A concussion doesn’t entirely mean hitting your head hard. Concussions happen often, and there are a multitude of adverse side effects from a concussion that can disable a person biologically. In cases where a concussion needs to be thoroughly examined and diagnosed, the North Coast Concussion Program (NCCP) at Humboldt State University is there.

Graphic by Lora Neshovska

A statement from the program’s homepage says that the NCCP treats thousands of Humboldt and Del Norte residents every year. This not only includes local community members and Humboldt State residents, it extends to 11 regional high schools, as well as youth and adult sport leagues.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that a concussion is a, “type of traumatic brain injury, or TBI, caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head that can change the way your brain normally works.”

It continues to state that although concussions are not usually life threatening, their effects can be serious. Those effects are what the NCCP primarily study, and based of the needs of different concussed patients, the Student Disability Resource Center (SDRC) is willing to accommodate each student individually.

“We do work well together,” said Kevin O’Brien, the director of Student Access Services.

O’Brien explains that students are usually first seen at the health center at Humboldt State and then referred to the North Coast Concussion Program. Based off the assessment report, O’Brien and the SDRC evaluate the impact of the concussion of the student’s academic work and authorize specific accommodations based on the results.

“It’s going to vary according to the severity of the concussion, the impact of that on a student, whether it causes them headaches, visual disturbance, it depends on the issues that arise from the concussion and the length of time,” O’Brien said.

O’ Brien says generally with a concussion, the basics to help yourself are to reduce reading, bright lighting, and to increase the amount of rest you get.

“Basically you are trying to rest the brain so it can heal itself,” O’ Brien said. “So reduce cognitive activity, studying, reading, bright lights, all of those things.”

If you do have a concussion, it’s imperative to work with the SDRC advisors and your professors to construct a regimen. They collaborate to help build you back up and get you into regular study habits again.

“They are going to need an accommodation maybe as simple as us conferring with their faculty,” O’Brien said. “Working with the faculty on what the expectations might be, and how long this is going to take, and how can we best ensure that the student can make up work missed.”

Humboldt State recently hosted a guest from the University of Pittsburgh Medcial Center on Thursday, Sept. 28. Dr. Anthony Kontos spoke about research pertaining to psychological, neurocognitive, and neuro-motor aspects related to concussions. Most importantly, he advocates safety, as well as concussion prevention and treatment.

“There’s risk in all activities, And then if somebody has something, they got to do something about it. It can’t just be, ‘okay, you have a concussion,’ Kontos said.

Kontos says to seek whatever care and follow up, because that’s how we prevent the effects of an injury from becoming worse.

“We do know that if you’re an adolescent and you get hit, there’s a likelihood that your developing brain is more at risk than, say, a really young kid or an adult,” Kontos said.

According to Kontos, you shouldn’t let that affect your participation in sports. Mainly, you have to learn to play sports correctly and how to participate safely.

“That’s really the key here, doing sports as safe as possible and allowing kids to be active,” Kontos said.

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