Every year on 20 March, we commemorate World Head Injury Awareness Day, which helps us keep in mind those who have suffered anything from a mild head bump to severe brain injury.
The aim of this day is to remind us how and where possible we could play our role in reducing accidents and brain injuries. World Head Injury Awareness Day advocates the correct usage of helmets and seat belts, which can significantly prevent or lessen trauma to the head in accidents.
South Africa has a high incidence of traumatic brain injuries – over 185,000 were reported in 2016 alone.
If your head suffers a fairly mild injury, in sport, a vehicle accident, or from a simple slip and fall, it can cause symptoms you don't expect. If it has not been addressed, it may have long-term consequences.
Head injuries can inflict major damage to the central nervous system and our brain. Even minor head trauma can lead to serious complications should the correct care and treatment not be received in time. Injury to the head can result to anything from concussion, memory loss to severe paralysis and even death. Many people are partially or fully paralysed, simply due to them not wearing the appropriate head gear at the time of the accident. Interestingly, serious brain damage can occur even if the skull remains intact.
Symptoms to look out for:
- Physical symptoms like headache, nausea or vomiting, drowsiness or fatigue, problems with your speech, dizziness or changes in sleep patterns, or
- Cognitive symptoms like irritability, mood swings, a feeling of tiring easily, depression, a feeling of being confused or dazed, or an inability to concentrate, or
- Sensory symptoms like blurred vision, ringing in your ears, changes in taste or sensitivity to sunlight and other bright lights, or sounds, you may need medical attention including vestibular rehabilitation therapy
What is Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy?
This is an exercise-based program, designed by a specialty-trained vestibular physiotherapist, to improve balance (of the inner ear) and to reduce secondary problems related to dizziness, visual disturbance-vertigo and nausea.
Physiotherapists would be a part of the medical team, helping to address symptoms sustained from banging your head and your overall physical function.
You may need to relearn some functions, like maintaining your balance when standing upright or walking without falling or you may have minor physical (dizziness), cognitive (inability to concentrate) and sensory (blurred vision) symptoms that need tweaking. The physiotherapists at Campus Health Service can help restore function to the best level possible.
If you are concerned about a possible head injury, such as concussion, please make an appointment with the CHS Physiotherapists by calling 021 808 3392 or speak to a CHS doctor or sister at 021 808 3496, by booking an appointment.