NCAA beginning to take concussions seriously

22 Jul

Moi posted in Don’t ignore concussions:
Kids Health has some great information about concussions at their site:

What Is a Concussion and What Causes It?
The brain is made of soft tissue and is cushioned by spinal fluid. It is encased in the hard, protective skull. When a person gets a head injury, the brain can move around inside the skull and even bang against it. This can lead to bruising of the brain, tearing of blood vessels, and injury to the nerves. When this happens, a person can get a concussion — a temporary loss of normal brain function.
Most people with concussions recover just fine with appropriate treatment. But it’s important to take proper steps if you suspect a concussion because it can be serious.
Concussions and other brain injuries are fairly common. About every 21 seconds, someone in the United States has a serious brain injury. One of the most common reasons people get concussions is through a sports injury. High-contact sports such as football, boxing, and hockey pose a higher risk of head injury, even with the use of protective headgear.
People can also get concussions from falls, car accidents, bike and blading mishaps, and physical violence, such as fighting. Guys are more likely to get concussions than girls. However, in certain sports, like soccer, girls have a higher potential for concussion.

Dr. Rivara has published a study of how serious concussions can be.
Lindsey Tanner of AP reports on a new study about concussions in the article, Even mild concussions can cause lingering symptoms:

Children with even relatively mild concussions can have persistent attention and memory problems a year after their injuries, according to a study that helps identify which kids may be most at risk for lingering symptoms.
In most kids with these injuries, symptoms resolve within a few months but the study results suggest that problems may linger for up to about 20 percent, said study author Keith Owen Yeates, a neuropsychologist at Ohio State University’s Center for Biobehaviorial Health.
Problems like forgetfulness were more likely to linger than fatigue, dizziness and other physical complaints, the study found.
Forgetfulness, difficulty paying attention, headaches and fatigue were more common in study children who lost consciousness or who had other mild head trauma that caused brain abnormalities on imaging tests, compared with kids who didn’t get knocked out or who had normal imaging test results.
The study looked at symptoms up to a year after injury so it doesn’t answer whether any kids had longer-lasting or permanent problems.
“What parents want to know is if my kid is going to do OK. Most do OK, but we have to get better at predicting which kids are going to have problems,” Yeates said.
Those who do may need temporary accommodations, including extra time taking school tests, or wearing sunglasses if bright light gives them headaches, he said.
Most children studied had concussions from playing sports or from falls. About 20 percent had less common mild brain trauma from traffic accidents and other causes.
Concussions involve a blow to the head that jostles the brain against the skull, although imaging scans typically show no abnormalities. Other mild brain trauma can cause tissue damage visible on these scans.
The study included 186 children aged 8 to 15 with mild concussions and other mild brain injuries treated at two hospitals, in Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio. The reports are based on parents’ reports of symptoms up to 12 months after the injuries.
The brain injuries studied were considered mild because they involved no more than half an hour of unconsciousness; 60 percent of kids with concussions or other brain trauma — 74 children — had no loss of consciousness.
Overall, 20 percent — 15 children — who lost consciousness had lingering forgetfulness or other non-physical problems a year after their injury; while 20 percent who had abnormal brain scans — six kids — had lingering headaches or other physical problems three months after being injured.

Time to Start Paying Attention
Frederick P. Rivara, MD, MPH
Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. Published online March 5, 2012. doi:10.1001/archpediatrics.2011.1602
Coaches and parents must be alert to signs of concussion.

Brad Wolverton reported in the Chronicle of Higher Education article, NCAA Medical Chief on Concussions: ‘There’s a Sense of Urgency’:

Since starting at the NCAA, in January, Dr. Hainline, a neurologist and the former top medical officer of the United States Tennis Association, has been traveling the country to spread the word about three of the biggest challenges he sees: concussion, which he calls the “elephant at the table”; student-athlete mental health; and the delivery of health care in a “patient-centered” model.
If you read some of the e-mails filed on Friday in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, where the case is being heard, you might think NCAA colleges have a long way to go on that last challenge.
According to a 2010 NCAA survey on concussions, nearly half of the responding institutions said they had allowed players back into a game on the same day of a concussion diagnosis. One assistant trainer said he had personally seen a football player knocked unconscious and then returned in the same quarter of a contest.
Dr. Hainline would not comment on the NCAA’s concussion litigation, saying that it raised complex questions that could take hours to explain (he and David Klossner, the NCAA’s director of health and safety, spoke to me for more than 30 minutes).
But Dr. Hainline said that, until the end of 2012, there was not a widely accepted consensus among medical experts about the need to keep players out of action on the same day of a concussion. Before that, one closely watched set of guidelines suggested that players should not be returned on the same day—but left open a window for adult or elite athletes under special circumstances.
Dr. Hainline argued that the decision to return is complicated by the players themselves, who often report that they are ready to go even when they shouldn’t. He pointed to a forthcoming study showing that 50 percent of players in one Division I conference were underreporting injuries, including concussion….

People must take concussions very seriously.


Concussion – Overview


Study: Effects of a concussion linger for months
Update: Don’t ignore concussions
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