What Cyclists Need to Know About Concussion Symptoms

Early in my cycling career, I was told there are two types of cyclists. The first are those who have crashed and the second are those who are going to crash. The general thought is that if you ride a bike long enough, sooner or later you'll be drawn to earth by gravity in a most unfriendly way.

Typically, cyclists think of crash injuries as broken bones and road rash. Those injuries are visible. If the crash involves head impact, a broken helmet and loss of consciousness, the cyclist may consider the possibility of a head injury. Even with physical evidence, many cyclists will make light of getting their "bell rung," "seeing stars," or "feeling woozy." Too often, they will ignore these symptoms and get back to riding as soon as possible.

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The Story of a Crash

A cyclist was making a left hand turn onto another road that T-intersected the road on which the cyclist was riding. The cyclist had the right of way. A motorist rolled up to the stop sign at the intersection, did a quick look and proceeded to aggressively accelerate into a left turn. The vehicle broadsided the cyclist.

The cyclist sustained several injuries and was sent to the emergency room in an ambulance. He ended up with stitches in his chin, broken bones in his left hand and a broken right wrist. Remarkably, the injuries were not worse and he was released that day.

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His bicycle sustained damage, but there were no marks indicating impact to his helmet.

Over a week after the accident, the cyclist had surgery on his left hand. After surgery, doctors put him on Percocet for pain relief. Within a day he thought the medication was making him light-headed. He decided to stop the medication to see if he could relieve the symptoms that seemed to be getting worse.

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Within a day of stopping the medication, he felt terrible. He felt so bad that he went to the local urgent care. Concerned that he might have had an undiagnosed head injury, they sent him to have a CT scan to look for a concussion. They also ordered an EKG to check his heart.

The CT scan didn't show any blood and the EKG was relatively normal, so the injury was nearly overlooked.

More: 10 Things I Learned From Being Hit by a Car

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