Concussions worth more discussion


We are hearing more and more about the serious concussion risk athletes- in just about every sport- face on the field or court. With good reason.

During an athlete's career, there will be injuries and, over time, they can result in devastating damage called CTE or chronic traumatic encepholopathy. Think of it as wear and tear degenerative changes to the brain.

"The main concern is that if you have multiple injuries. So- and that could be a contact to the head, or contact to the body- that repetitive injury to the brain can cause brain damage," says Hurley Pediatric Sports Medicine Specialist, Dr. Stacy Frye.

These high risk injuries are not always to the head, which is an important fact Dr. Frye wants to empahsize, "If you have a traumatic enough jar to the body, it's basically like a whiplash injury to the head or to the neck. So the brain literally is almost like floating inside of the skull. So if you take a big enough force to the body, it can cause the brain to go back and forth."

The impact of these injuries is well documented in the number of professional athletes who, after a lifetime on the field or court, suffer CTE.

"As more kids are playing sports the number of injuries are going up," Frye says, "And so with the professional players having CTE, there is this big awareness among families and parents to make sure that kids are not having those repetitive injuries."

Dr. Frye says the increased emphasis on concussion prevention is having an imact, "We think they're definitely being recognized more than they have been in the past. So coaches, parents and even the athletes themselves are getting more education as to what to look for. So we are definitely getting more calls and requests for evaluations than ever before."

Knowing concussion signs is especially important, Frye says, because they are not something that is typically picked up on medical imaging, "There is a stress to the brain, and then the chemicals inside the brain are jarred and effected. But if you go to test them with an x-ray, or an MRI, or a CT scan, typically you're not going to see any changes."

A child may be dizzy or have a headache at the time of injury, but not show signs, like sleepiness, or changes in mood, vision or appetite until 24 to 48 hours later.

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