Got your bell rung? Don’t take it lightly |

Got your bell rung? Don’t take it lightly

Aspen Valley Hospital's team of head-injury rehab specialists include physical therapist Kimber Kurr, occupational therapist Krista Fox and physical therapist Amy Bumgarner.
Rick Carroll/The Aspen Times |

Signs of a concussion

You might have a concussion if you have the following symptoms:

Headache or a feeling of pressure in the head, temporary loss of consciousness, confusion or feeling as if in a fog, amnesia surrounding the traumatic event, dizziness or “seeing stars,” ringing in the ears, nausea, vomiting, slurred speech, delayed response to questions, appearing dazed and fatigue.

Source: Mayo Clinic

A bump on the head isn’t casually dismissed today like it used to be.

Concussions and their potential for permanent brain injury have now become part of the public consciousness, in large part because of the spotlight cast on head injuries that occur on the football field and in other sports.

A trio of rehab specialists at Aspen Valley Hospital — occupational therapist Krista Fox and physical therapists Kimber Kurr and Amy Bumgarner — are seeing an increased number of patients through doctor referrals in light of the growing attention on the effects of concussions.

“A lot of people in Aspen do high-risk activities,” Kurr said. “We have an active population.”

Fox, the hospital’s head-injury-team coordinator, said 12 patients currently are using the hospital’s services for head-injury rehabilitation. The degree of the head injuries varies, as do their sources — whether it’s from an automobile accident, bike crash or collision on the soccer field.

If you’re knocked out, that means you have a concussion, plain and simple, the specialists said. But even if you don’t lose consciousness, you still can have a concussion, they said. And one doesn’t have to hit their head to get a concussion — the body can be jarred so much that the brain can move within the skull. Whiplash also can cause a concussion. Scientific advances in the field are made constantly, they said.

“There’s new evidence coming out every single day,” Fox said.

Because their brains are developing, children are most vulnerable to long-term head injuries, the specialists said.

It’s important to be sensitive to such changes as emotional, visual and balancing skills. People can become more irritable with head injuries, Bumgarner said, which can slow down recovery. The head-injury team’s chief goal is “getting people ready for day-to-day activities,” Fox said.

Rehab can take as long as a year or even longer, depending on the severity of the injury.

Rest is a key to recovery, and rehabilitation can include eye-movement and balancing exercises, among others.

The three specialists cautioned that many athletes are reluctant to sit out because they might feel their injury isn’t severe. Time and time again, that has shown to be a self-defeating approach.

More information about the hospital’s services is available by calling 970-544-1177.


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