Western Wisconsin – Nearly half a million kids in the United States are treated in an emergency room each year for traumatic brain injury (TBI), including concussion, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
A concussion is a TBI that affects brain function. Any sudden movement of the head can cause the brain to bounce or twist in the skull and sometimes damage brain cells. Effects of a severe TBI may limit an individual’s ability to work, drive and perform daily, routine tasks. Although usually temporary, symptoms of concussion may include:
  • Confusion and/or memory loss
  • Sensitivity to light and/or noise
  • Headache
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Blurry vision and/or dizziness
  • Mood or personality changes
  • Inability to concentrate
Dr. Berkin Ulgen, Prevea Health sports medicine and family medicine physician, says symptoms of a concussion usually appear soon after an injury, but many people do not realize how serious the injury is or how quickly they should go to the emergency room. He says contrary to popular belief, many concussions happen without a loss of consciousness.
“Anytime someone takes a bump, hit or jolt to the head you should watch closely for symptoms of a brain injury,” says Dr. Ulgen. “Summer weather allows us to be active outdoors more often and that means there are more possibilities of taking a fall on a trail, getting hit by a ball or experiencing another traumatic event.”
Dr. Ulgen emphasizes that returning to activity too soon after a concussion - while the brain is still healing - provides a greater risk of a repeat concussion. A head injury while still recovering from a first concussion can lead to significantly longer and more difficult recovery. He says physical and mental rest is important while healing
  • Avoid or minimize screen time
  • Take frequent breaks even during routine activities
  • Get plenty of sleep
  • Do not take unnecessary risks
Wearing a helmet when playing sports, riding a bike, skateboarding, riding a motorcycle and any other activity that may cause a bump to the head is the best way to help avoid a serious brain injury. A helmet will absorb much of the impact rather than your head and brain.
“It’s important the helmet is age appropriate, worn correctly and kept in good condition,” says Dr. Ulgen. “Although no helmet has been proven to prevent a concussion, there are many types of helmets. Be sure to choose the correct one for each sport or activity as they are not interchangeable.”
Dr. Ulgen says not all helmets meet required federal safety standards. Look for a label or marking - usually found inside the helmet - that indicates compliance with the safety standard; do not rely solely on the helmet’s name, appearance or claims made on the packaging. Also, do not choose style over safety.
If a hit to the head occurs, health outcomes are improved by seeking a doctor’s care quickly, early diagnosis and a gradual return to play or activity.
Dr. Ulgen sees patients at the Prevea Chippewa Falls Health Center, 2509 County Hwy I and the Prevea Altoona Medical Office Building, 3119 Woodman Dr. You can schedule an appointment online or by calling (715) 717-3375.
For details about how to spot a possible concussion, you can visit prevea.com/concussions or download the free CDC HEADS UP safety app to your smartphone. Additional information can also be found at: www.cdc.gov
About Prevea Health
Founded in Green Bay, Wis. in 1996, Prevea Health is a health care organization that provides high-quality, primary and specialty health care in 80+ locations across Northern, Eastern and Western Wisconsin in clinic and hospital settings. It is partnered with six Hospital Sisters Health System (HSHS) hospitals across Wisconsin to provide patients a system of highly-coordinated care, close to home: HSHS St. Vincent Hospital and HSHS St. Mary’s Hospital Medical Center in Green Bay; HSHS St. Nicholas Hospital in Sheboygan; HSHS St. Clare Memorial Hospital in Oconto Falls; HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital in Eau Claire; and HSHS St. Joseph’s Hospital in Chippewa Falls. For more information, visit www.prevea.com.