Teens who hit their heads while participating in sports such as football, horseback riding, cheerleading or gymnastics, are at risk of suffering concussions — and more.
“A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury (TBI), and it is similar to a stroke in that both affect normal brain function and may have similar symptoms,” said neurologist Frederick Nahm, MD, PhD, head of the Stroke Center at Greenwich Hospital in Greenwich, Connecticut.
“These secondary complications, like anxiety disorders or a new phobia of tests, memory problems, depression, apathy, inattention and other behaviors are indelible and can be difficult to treat. It’s not something the student can control or work harder to ‘fix’ because it’s the result of an injured brain.
“Only a [neuropsychologist or doctor] trained in the treatment of concussion or traumatic brain injury can do a thorough assessment for a severe brain injury,” said Nahm.
Immediate concussion symptoms may include confusion, disorientation and occasionally becoming unconscious. Ignoring these symptoms is extremely dangerous.
“During a game, your adrenaline is going and you’re pumped up, so it’s easy to brush it off. But whether you bump your head during sports, a car accident, a fall or during military activity, it may not be until that night or a few days later that you get a headache or start to feel dizzy or nauseous,” Nahm said.
“The most important thing with a head injury, if you feel as though you’re having symptoms you have to tell someone and seek evaluation.”
Nahm pointed out that “a thorough treatment plan focuses on the emotional, psychological, and behavioral issues that can arise following even a mild brain injury.”
An injured person who returns to normal activity without appropriate healing may be at risk for second impact syndrome. A second head injury, especially an injury before total healing has occurred, carries far greater long-term complications.
Source: Greenwich Hospital