Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Use Your Head: A Closer Look at Traumatic Brain Injury, Including Sports Concussions

By Rigoberto Hernandez, MD
Pediatric Resident at Oregon Health & Science University
Former Member, Texas Medical Association 

As students participate in sports training, it is important to be aware of a phenomenon that until recently was often overlooked: Concussions among athletes, including student-athletes.

Thanks to movies like 2015’s “Concussion” starring Will Smith, and the recent concussion-related controversies involving the National Football League, traumatic brain injury (TBI) has become a more prominent topic of discussion among youth athletics. It’s important for people to get a better understanding of what TBI is, how to prevent it, and the consequences it can have if left untreated.

TBI is defined as any injury to the brain caused by an external physical force with temporary to long-term neurological complications. Motor vehicle accidents remain the most common cause of TBI for most people. However, sports-related head injuries remain particularly common among children and teenagers. Teenagers in high-impact sports such as football, soccer, boxing, and hockey are particularly at high-risk because of the collisions involved.

Symptoms are wide-ranging and may help doctors determine the extent of injury, whether it’s mild, moderate, or severe. Brief loss of consciousness, headache, fatigue, issues with memory or concentration, and changes in sleep pattern occur in mild cases of TBI. Severe symptoms – including longer periods of unconsciousness, persistent headache with associated nausea or vomiting, and convulsions – are far more concerning and warrant immediate medical attention. Lethargy, decreased strength and sensation, and altered mental status (i.e. agitation, profound confusion, and/or slurred speech) also occur in severe TBI cases. Regardless of how severe the injury is, patients should undergo a thorough evaluation by qualified medical personnel.

As one would expect with a traumatic brain injury, complications vary widely. They might affect multiple elements of daily living such as consciousness; cognitive abilities (such as memory, learning, reasoning, or concentration); communication; behavior; psychological state (i.e. depression, anxiety, or mood swings); strength and sensory abilities (such as impaired coordination); and in severe cases – death.

The connection between TBI and degenerative brain disease, including gradual loss of brain function, is a current hot topic of discussion, with recent studies suggesting patients might be at increased risk after suffering severe or repeat head injuries. This research, along with the aforementioned complications, highlight the importance of prevention.

In addition to following general safety standards (wearing seat belts, or wearing helmets when participating in high-contact sports, for example) young athletes should be encouraged to adopt the most up-to-date sport-specific safety practices.

It is important to continue raising awareness about traumatic brain injury in order to help facilitate early identification and treatment of young athletes in our communities.

1 comment :

Remi Hill said...

Hi Rigoberto, That was an informative blog. The public awareness about brain traumatic injury is always important so that they can deal with it in a better way. The Best International Hospital have developed innovative treatment methods which would bring more relief to brain trauma injured patients. Hope to read more from you in the near future. Thanks and cheers.

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...