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Baylor Institute for Rehabilitation

 
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Concussion Management Program 

Concussions: The Hype and The Science

Concussions can occur in our everyday lives – whether it’s from a fall off of a ladder, a car accident or a tackle during a football game. Concussions due to sports injuries have dominated major headlines recently. It’s been the subject of a Hollywood movie, TV specials, documentaries and thousands of sports talk radio debates across the country. A lot of the attention has been focused on the correlation between concussions and depression.

As the list of former NFL players, military personnel and others who have suffered multiple concussions and later succumbed to depression or suicide continues to grow, many are starting to question whether we should allow people – children, in particular – to engage in full-contact sports.

Parents, school and other organizations are starting to ask questions like, “Should we allow our kids to engage in these kinds of activities? Should I let my son or daughter play sports?”

What Is a Concussion?

Whether it’s in a boxing ring, hockey rink or on the gridiron, seeing someone get banged up and stumbling disoriented to the sideline is a relative common sight. We use terms like “seeing stars” or “getting your bell rung,” but in reality these athletes are experiencing more than that. They’re usually suffering from the effects of a concussion, one of the most common types of injury affecting athletes at all levels.

A concussion occurs when a person’s brain is forcefully rocked back and forth inside the skull. This can happen as the result of a blow to the head or the neck, or when the head is struck hard enough to stretch nerve cells and cause a brief interruption in brain functions. This trauma may or may not cause a loss of consciousness – in fact, 90 percent of concussions in sports occur without a loss of consciousness.

According to a study conducted in 2004(3), the top 10 most common symptoms of concussion were:

  • Headaches
  • Feelings of dizziness
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Sensitivity to noise
  • Poor sleep/fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Poor memory/concentration
  • Blurred vision
  • Sensitivity to bright light
  • Double vision

High school and younger-aged athletes are more likely to sustain a concussion than professional athletes. In fact, children are more vulnerable to the effects of concussion than adults. This is due to prolonged metabolic changes in the brain following injury, causing them to take longer to recover than a professional athlete, for example.

Comprehensive Concussion Care at Baylor Institute for Rehabilitation

Baylor Institute for Rehabilitation (Baylor Rehab) provides comprehensive, individualized concussion assessment and management through a variety of educational and clinical services, including computerized neurocognitive testing such as ImPACT™, and more comprehensive neuropsychological assessment for those suffering from a possible concussion.

When it comes to treatment, Baylor Rehab believes that it’s important to manage concussions on a case-by-case, individualized basis and to implement baseline testing and/or post-injury neurocognitive testing as quickly as possible following an injury.

Sports medicine experts around the world agree that neurocognitive testing is the foundation of proper concussion management. These types of assessments can help to objectively evaluate an athlete post-injury and track not only his or her condition, but also his or her recovery – ensuring a safe return to play and preventing the cumulative effects of concussion.

At Baylor Rehab, we understand that a concussion can seem like a frightening injury. That’s why we not only provide quality medical care, but outstanding education as well. We want to stress that while these injuries can be serious and should always be met with immediate medical attention, they are treatable.

Find out more about concussions and their management at the links below or by contacting Baylor Institute for Rehabilitation’s Concussion Management Program at 214.820.8356, Baylor Institute for Rehabilitation’s SportsHealth Program at 214.820.7868 or a local Baylor SportCare representative.

Sources:
1) McCrea, M. (2008). Mild traumatic brain injury and post-concussion syndrome: The new evidence base for diagnosis and treatment. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
2) Theye, F., & Mueller, K. (2004). "Heads Up": Concussions in High School Sports. Clinical Medicine & Research, 165-171. Retrieved December 17, 2015, from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/