Health Works: A concussion discussion

- Content sponsored and provided by Henry Ford Health System.

We are living in a time of heightened awareness about concussions and their prevalence in the NFL, along with other contact sports. So it's only fitting the topic would make it's way onto the big screen in the new movie "Concussion" starring Will Smith. Dr. Adrianna Zec, a neuro-psychologist at Henry Ford Hospital is here to break it all down.

A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury (TBI) caused by a bump, blow or jolt to the head. Concussions can also occur from a fall or blow to the body that causes the head and brain to move quickly back and forth.  A study released this month in the American Journal of Sports Medicine found that concussions among college athletes were not just in football, but wrestling and men's and women's ice hockey. Women's soccer and women's basketball also posed dangers for concussion.

According to research, more than 300,000 sports-related concussions occur annually in the U.S. The likelihood of suffering a concussion playing a contact sport is estimated to be as high as 19% per year of play. About 75% of traumatic brain injuries each year are concussions or mild TBI.

Most people with a concussion recover quickly and fully. However, symptoms last can for days, weeks or longer. Symptoms include:

  • Difficulty thinking clearly, concentrating, remembering new information.
  • Headache, nausea or vomiting early on, sensitivity to light or noise, blurred vision, dizziness, feeling tired, no energy.
  • Irritability, sadness, more emotional, anxiety.
  • Sleeping more than usual, sleeping less than usual, trouble falling asleep.

When a concussion is suspected, do the following:

  • Remove the athlete from play.
  • Have the athlete evaluated by a medical doctor.
  • Keep the athlete on the sidelines until cleared to play by a medical doctor.
  • Depending on their symptoms, the patient may need further follow-up, either emergently in the ER (to rule out more serious injury) or with their primary care physician and/or in Henry Ford's Concussion Clinic.

Lastly, Henry Ford Hospital offers a Concussion Clinic that is designed for athletes who may have received a concussion while playing sports, regardless of their level of competition. This is a comprehensive, multi-disciplinary clinic comprising sports medicine physicians, neuropsychologists and athletic trainers. To make an appointment, call 313.972.4216.

Henry Ford uses the Immediate Post Concussion and Assessment and Cognitive Test, of ImPACT, to help determine when an athlete is fully healed form a concussion and may safely return to play. The computer test can be administered before the season and to establish a baseline performance. In the absence of a baseline, it is used to assist in decisions regarding recovery from concussion and safe return to play.

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