If you've suffered a head injury, however minor, it's important to seek medical attention immediately. Whether it be a hard tackle, a soccer ball or a hard fall, athletes suffer from concussions every day. These concussions may go undetected, unless doctors have the right tools to do an evaluation. To find out more about concussions and tools needed to get athletes back in the game as quickly as possible, read on.
WHAT IS A CONCUSSION?
A concussion may occur when a direct blow to the head, face or neck is sustained. This creates a chemical reaction in brain cells causing an increased demand for energy. Symptoms occur as a result of the imbalance between the availability of energy sources and the energy demands.
WHAT HAPPENS TO THE BRAIN IN A CONCUSSION?
Concussions can cause short-lived impairment. The most commonly reported symptoms include headache, feeling slowed down, having difficulty concentrating, dizziness, fogginess, fatigue, light sensitivity and memory problems. Because the changes are functional rather than structural, CT scans and MRIs do not reflect the impairment and are typically normal.
DOES AN INDIVIDUAL HAVE TO BE UNCONSCIOUS TO HAVE SUSTAINED A CONCUSSION?
No, an individual can experience a concussion without losing consciousness.
WHAT IS IMPACT?
ImPACT is a computerized concussion evaluation tool developed at the University of Pittsburgh’s Sports Medicine Program. It assesses cognitive functions commonly affected by a concussion including verbal and visual short term memory, visual motor speed and reaction time. It is used to both evaluate the effects of a concussion and, more importantly, to manage the recovery process. Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Network is a credentialed consultant with the ImPACT program.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO MANAGE RECOVERY FROM A CONCUSSION?
The recovery time from a concussion can vary per individual. It is important that the individual be symptom free before engaging in any sports or physical activity. During the recovery period, cognitive exertion must also be monitored. ImPACT assists with objectively measuring cognitive recovery and determining when it is safe to begin returning to physical activity. Returning too soon can result in prolonged symptoms and can increase the chances of a second impact syndrome. Second impact syndrome occurs when an unrecovered, concussed brain suffers another injury causing severe neurologic impairment and possibly death.
WHAT ARE SOME VARIABLES WHICH CAN AFFECT RECOVERY FROM CONCUSSION?
Factors that can affect recovery include age, history of previous concussions, general medical conditions and history of learning problems.
WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I, OR SOMEONE I KNOW, HAS HAD A CONCUSSION?
Be sure to get a concussion evaluation which includes ImPACT. For more information, or to set up an appointment, contact the Good Shepherd Psychology Group at 610-776-3214.