Thomas Starnes

Thomas Starnes, MD, is a board-certified nonoperative sports medicine physician.

People usually associate concussions or head injuries with sports, like soccer, football or basketball, but concussions can happen during recreational activities for fun too. It’s that time of year here in the mountains for western North Carolinians’ favorite outdoor activities – hiking, canoeing or rafting down the river, biking and more. Whether your mountain biking is for fun or sport, don’t underestimate the impact of a concussion or undermine any symptoms you may be feeling from the result of a head injury.

If ignored, concussions and other traumatic brain injuries can have a number of long-lasting or permanent effects that can alter the way a person thinks, moves, feels or hears. Given the detrimental effects that concussions can have on a person, let’s dive into what a concussion is and what to do if you suspect you or a loved one has a concussion – and why seeking treatment and not rushing your recovery are important.

When something doesn’t feel quite right: Concussions and concussion symptoms

Thomas Starnes, MD, said that a concussion occurs when a force is transmitted through the brain either directly or indirectly. Dr. Starnes said, “This force causes microscopic injury, which results in a temporary alteration of the brain’s function.”

The broad scope of concussion symptoms can include:

  • Mood changes
  • Headaches
  • Visual abnormalities
  • Dizziness
  • Inner ear function problems
  • Fatigue
  • Confusion

Don’t ignore your symptoms: What to do if you think you have a concussion

Depending on the degree of severity of the head injury or concussion in question, the appropriate response to that injury will differ. Initially, the correct first step in all cases is to make sure that you or your loved one is seen by a trained and qualified professional. In the case of an emergency, do not hesitate to dial 911. Call 911 if someone is experiencing:

• Altered consciousness

• Extreme confusion

• One-sided weakness

• Change in size of pupil or pupils.


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