Oops! ... I Hit It Again: Everyday Concussions

Concussions go beyond sports. From inside the home to out on the trail, concussions happen in everyday life.

Diagnostics Testing|Jul.22, 2022

You've done it now. You tripped on the rug during your living room dance party and landed right on your head. Your head definitely hurts, but a glance in the mirror won’t tell you if you have a concussion.

The CDC defines a concussion (sometimes called a mild traumatic brain injury or mTBI) as a bump, blow, or jolt to the head, including whiplash, that results in injury. Concussions impact more people beyond the athletic community — and beyond your living room dance floor. From older adults to young children to military personnel, people of any age can suffer from a concussion.

An Invisible Injury

Let’s take a closer look to see where concussions can happen in everyday activities.

Playing Outdoors, While Looking Out for Your Brain

Almost half of adults in the United States participate in outdoor recreation on a monthly basis, and during the COVID-19 pandemic, 20% of those people were new to outdoor recreation.

These activities, such as biking and climbing, are known to help manage stress and well-being, but getting outside safely is important. In one year, traumatic brain injuries were diagnosed in 6.5% of injuries from outdoor recreation. A 2020 study found that concussions are among the most common head and neck injuries from rock climbing, and another showed that concussions account for roughly 8-9% of all biking-related injuries.

When appropriate, make sure you and your loved ones are using necessary protective gear, such as helmets and hiking boots, to safely enjoy the outdoors.

Watch Your Step

In adults 65 and older, 1 out of 5 falls causes a serious injury, which can include head injury. Falls are also the most common cause of traumatic brain injury, according to the CDC.

Risk factors, which are conditions that can contribute to falling, can be minimized to prevent a fall. From adding grab bars in bathrooms to using non-slip mats, there are many ways to ensure the safety of older loved ones without impeding their everyday life.

As children progress from crawling to walking to running to climbing, falls are bound to occur. They are the top cause of nonfatal injury, including concussions, in children up to 4 years old. 6.8% of children aged 17 and under experienced concussion symptoms in 2020 alone. In student athletes, at least 5 in 10 concussions are unreported or undetected.

That’s why it’s important to educate kids about playing safely. Teaching children about how and when to use safety equipment, such as helmets and supervising them when near fall hazards, is a way to protect them from fall-related injuries.

Workplace Concussions: They Truly Exist

From walking to the office to organizing stock in the backroom, the chance of a concussion is also present in the workplace. About 1 in 4 mild traumatic brain injuries in adults happen at work, and people who sustained a traumatic brain injury in the workplace were typically hit by an object. The Neurologic Rehabilitation Institute reported that the largest writer of workers’ compensation in the Midwest saw a 48% increase in reported concussions from 2012 to 2014.

People don’t typically think about concussions when they’re signing into work each day. As people shift back to working in the office or hybrid work, it’s good to take precautions relevant to your workplace environment.

You Think You’re Concussed

The CDC breaks down the symptoms of mild traumatic brain injury and concussion into four categories:

  • Physical

  • Thinking and Remembering

  • Social or Emotional

  • Sleep

If you sustain a concussion, you have a greater chance of getting another concussionSecond impact syndrome is a similar concept to how you’re more likely to re-sprain an ankle.

To best determine if you have a concussion, seek care from a healthcare professional, such as a primary care provider or emergency department physician, for testing that can provide more definitive answers. Our i-STAT TBI Plasma test, cleared by the FDA in 2021, helps clinicians assess individuals with suspected mild traumatic brain injuries, and we are working on additional advancements.

Stay safe. Get tested. Concussions aren’t that innocent.