Concussions: The Long-Term and Wide-Spread Effects

9:13 AM, Oct 29, 2012   |    comments
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When many people think of concussions, football usually comes to mind, but women's soccer is actually the second leading sport for concussions.

The brain injury can happen with any sport from baseball to swimming and diving and even NASCAR, and the younger the athlete, the greater the long-term effects can be.

"A concussion is a brain injury," says Macon neurosurgeon Dr. Kevin Stevenson. "It's not one you can see like a twisted ankle or a big bruise, but it is an injury."

Doctors and athletic trainers have an arsenal of tests the athlete must pass before they can play, including a new computerized screening called ImPACT that looks at your brain function.

All of those tests help keep the player from going back too soon, which could lead to a serious issue called Second Impact Syndrome.

"That is where someone who is recovering from a concussion sustains a second concussion, and in roughly 50% of those cases, it's fatal. It's not a very common thing, but when it happens, it's dramatic," says Dr. Stevenson.

Even if the player fully recovers, the risk of getting a second concussion increases.

Dr. Stevenson says, "Concussions can be cumulative over a lifetime. So, say an eighth grader getting multiple concussions, down the road that could lead to poor school performance, the ability to not get the job they want, not get into the college they want, not to perform the way that they want to."

He says some doctors will recommend that a concussed player stay home from school for a short period of time, so their school performance is not compromised.

The brain injury can also affect more than just the mental and physical parts of an athlete's life.

Athletic Trainer Tee Spinks with Piedmont Orthopedics says, "Sleep patterns are disturbed, and when sleep patterns are disturbed, the brain doesn't have time to heal properly. If this persists for so long, it becomes an emotional issue, depression. Depression is a sign of concussion if it sustains and lasts for a long period of time."

Medical professionals say a concussion is a serious issue, but lack of education about it can lead to even bigger problems.

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