Injuries are a fact of life if you're into competitive sports. Whether you're out cycling through the mountain roads or rushing down the football field, whether you're diving down to great depths or dancing elegantly on a gymnast's horse, the odds of your eventually falling, being hit, or suffering some kind of trauma are significant. The question thus becomes how best to ameliorate the extent of the injury when it comes, and how best to understand what's happened to you so as to prevent it from getting worse. In this article I'll review a couple of the most common injuries, explore how you can prevent them, and what signs signal they've happened and how to treat them. Read on, and prepare for the worst!
Let's start with one of the nastiest and most insidious of injuries: Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). Your head is basically akin to an egg, with the brain being the yolk floating around inside, protected by the liquid in which it is suspended. But should your head suffer a sufficiently nasty bump, your brain is liable to bang up against the inside and bruise or bleed. Athletes in football, ice hockey, soccer, wrestling, basketball and cheerleading are most at risk, and this injury can run the range of skull fractures, blood clots and damage to the brain itself, and can be anything from a mild concussion to a more severe condition like Second-Impact Syndrome (receiving a second concussion while recovering from the first), or a larger contusion or hematoma.
How to prevent this? Always wear a helmet. By Always! Whether cycling or playing football, do not be a fool-wear a helmet. Do not tackle with your head in football, and in soccer try to avoid hitting the ball with your head. But say something went wrong and you've smacked your head. What are the symptoms of TBI? Vacant stare, slurred or delayed speech, disorientation, memory problems, dizziness, memory loss, nausea, vomiting, and loss of consciousness. Later on you could develop persistent head aches, poor concentration, depression, trouble sleeping, irritability and lightheadedness. Treatment? If you experience the symptoms above, a doctor can stop bleeding, stabilize your vital signs, control the pressure in your skull, remove blood clots and maintain adequate blood supply to the brain. Worst case scenario? Surgery.
Fractions and dislocations are horribly common, and can be a clean break or a skin tearing compound, and can happen in any sport. They can happen as a result of impact with somebody else or the ground, or as a stress fracture due to repetitive stressing of the bone when running, for example. You can also dislocate your bones by falling or colliding with other players, and this happens when two bones that meet at a joint become separated. Hand and shoulder dislocations are most common, but knee, hip and elbow dislocations can also take place.
In order to prevent these kind of injuries, make sure you warm up and wear protective gear. When jumping try to land with your knees bent, and be careful to play on surfaces free of rabbit holes or humps. You can also change up your running surface to prevent stress fractures, and strengthen the muscles around key joints to help prevent dislocation. Treatment? Emergency medical attention. Nothing you can do but rush to the ER, my friend.