How to get checked for traumatic brain injury
Most of the concern around traumatic brain injuries, or TBIs, used to focus on the obvious: skull fractures, brain bleeding, and patients slipping into coma. But after some high-profile concussion lawsuits in professional hockey and football, doctors are warning us that a knock to our noggin can leave us feeling more than just starry-eyed.
Men are up to three times more likely than women to sustain a TBI. And it’s not just pro athletes getting tackled by 300-pound linebackers, either. A lot of guys experience knocks to the head from everyday accidents like cycling, a car accident, or even horseplay with the kids.
Most TBIs require no treatment other than rest and over-the-counter pain relievers to treat a headache. But even mild concussions can impact your thinking, sensation, language, and emotions. That’s why it’s so important to be aware of TBIs and how you may be affected. Since June is Brain Injury Awareness Month, let’s start with the basics:
- Get checked — If you think you may have a TBI, your family doctor can perform a basic test that measures your ability to follow directions and move your eyes, arms, and legs. Your speech also provides important clues for your doctor, who may recommend additional tests like a CT scan or MRI to rule anything out.
- Work your brain — Men’s brain performance starts to decline by our late 20s or early 30s. That’s why apps like BrainHQ are useful for everyone. Keep your brain fit with puzzles, quizzes, and games. (Pro tip: By following this link, you even qualify for a subscription discount, thanks to the good fellas at the Canadian Football League Alumni Association.)
- Play safe — TBI is the No. 1 unintentional killer and disabler of men under 40. That’s why it’s so important to protect your head by wearing a helmet during all high-impact or contact sports (football, baseball, skiing/snowboarding, cycling, etc.). Even better, play a game of touch football at the park with your buddies.
Daniel Palmer is a communications professional and former journalist. Born in Newfoundland and raised in British Columbia, Daniel considers himself an elastic Canadian with a West Coast bias. Nature is usually the cure for what ails him. Daniel is based in Ottawa with his wife and daughter.