Concussions

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) and its many facets are discussed on the Traumatic Brain Injury page.  Traumatic brain injury can occur in a wide range of accidents.  As seen on that page:

Each year, TBIs contribute to a substantial number of deaths and cases of permanent disability. In fact, TBI is a contributing factor to a third (30%) of all injury-related deaths in the United States.1 In 2010, approximately 2.5 million people sustained a traumatic brain injury.

Another concern with regard to accidents and injuries are concussions that result from blows to the head.  Concussions have received considerable attention lately with regard to their incidence in sports, particularly football.  However, as seen in the April 17 Wall Street Journal article titled “Short on Concussion Data, NCAA Sets Out to Get Some,” concussions – at least to NCAA athletes – can and do occur in various other sports ranging from baseball to wrestling.

However, of course, concussions can and do happen in a variety of other settings and accidents.  The Wall Street Journal article mentioned above also mentions the incidence of concussions in the military.  An excerpt:

The DOD is interested in the research because military service personnel have a high incidence of concussion, most occur outside of combat and the injury is easier to study in a sports setting.

How these concussions should be diagnosed and treated is of particular concern.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have published a page titled “HEADS UP to Brain Injury and Awareness.”  The introduction to this page states:

Whether you are a parent, youth sports coach, high school coach, school professional, or health care provider, this site will help you recognize, respond to, and minimize the risk of concussion or other serious brain injury.

This page offers information on a variety of subjects and for a variety of parties.  Subjects include “brain injury basics,” “Concussion Laws” and “Helmet Safety.”

One of the pages deals with “Concussion Signs and Symptoms.”  An excerpt:

Signs and symptoms generally show up soon after the injury. However, you may not know how serious the injury is at first and some symptoms may not show up for hours or days. For example, in the first few minutes your child or teen might be a little confused or a bit dazed, but an hour later your child might not be able to remember how he or she got hurt.

You should continue to check for signs of concussion right after the injury and a few days after the injury. If your child or teen’s concussion signs or symptoms get worse, you should take him or her to the emergency department right away.

As well, there is also a page titled “Concussion Danger Signs,” in which “Danger Signs & Symptoms of a Concussion.”  As stated on the page:

In rare cases, a dangerous collection of blood (hematoma) may form on the brain after a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or body that may squeeze the brain against the skull. Call 9-1-1 right away, or take your child or teen to the emergency department if he or she has one or more of the following danger signs after a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or body:

  • One pupil larger than the other.
  • Drowsiness or inability to wake up.
  • A headache that gets worse and does not go away.
  • Slurred speech, weakness, numbness, or decreased coordination.
  • Repeated vomiting or nausea, convulsions or seizures (shaking or twitching).
  • Unusual behavior, increased confusion, restlessness, or agitation.
  • Loss of consciousness (passed out/knocked out). Even a brief loss of consciousness should be taken seriously.

As well, there is another section that discusses “Danger Signs & Symptoms of a Concussion for Toddlers and Infants.”

Havard Medical School has also published a March 18, 2013 post titled “New concussion guidelines say ‘When in doubt, sit it out.'”  This post discusses various aspects of concussions, including “spotting concussions.”

As to how to prevent concussions, various recommendations can be seen on the CDC “Concussion Prevention” page.  Among the most prominent ways to prevent a concussion is to wear a helmet; however, helmets must meet a variety of criteria for maximum effectiveness, as discussed on the CDC’s “Helmet Safety” page.

How concussions impact long-term health has been the subject of considerable attention and debate.  The CDC discusses the subject on its “Complications of Concussion” page.  An excerpt:

Concussion may cause a wide range of short- or long-term complications, affecting thinking, sensation, language or emotions. These changes may lead to problems with memory, communication, personality changes, as well as depression and the early onset of dementia.

The page then discusses a wide range of potential complications of concussion.

 

Additional concussion resources:

CBS Chicago April 13, 2015; “IHSA Says Concussion Lawsuit ‘Threatens High School Football.”

CDC Sports-Specific Concussion Information page

Report to Congress on Traumatic Brain Injury in the United States:  Understanding the Public Health Problem among Current and Former Military Personnel

TBI Report to Congress on Traumatic Brain Injury Epidemiology and Rehabilitation

brainline.org