Concussions: A Cause for Concern

By Helen Mizrach

Know an athlete who has recently experienced a concussion? With contact sports like football, soccer, and lacrosse running year-round, head injuries are common and parents and medical experts alike are becoming increasingly concerned. According to Sports Concussion Institute, football is the sport with the highest concussion risk for males (75% chance), and soccer is the sport with the highest risk for females (50% chance). Head injury experts at Harris Health System estimate that 53% of student athletes have experienced a concussion before participation in high school sports, and 36% of college athletes have a history of multiple concussions. Common signs of a concussion include an athlete appearing dazed, experiencing confusion about assignment or positions, showing behavioral or personality changes, or not being able to recall events before or after a hit or fall. Since there is no cure for concussions, concussed patients must be carefully monitored for a minimum of two weeks. However, concussions are not always identified immediately or at all, and the delay in correctly identifying them may cause some specialists to misdiagnose the injury for something less severe.

Multiple head injuries can cause the life-threatening condition of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE. CTE is a progressive degenerative disease that can diminish a person’s ability to think critically, cause slow motor skills, and leads to volatile mood swings. It is believed that each time the head takes a hit, the impact shakes the brain inside the skull, causing a buildup of an abnormal protein called tau that can lead to severe brain damage. What’s more concerning is that CTE can only be diagnosed conclusively after death, because it’s indistinguishable from many other brain conditions with current imaging technology.

Head injury experts advise the public to educate themselves on concussions and their symptoms, and to seek appropriate medical attention immediately to reduce the potential for life-threatening injuries.

 

Harris Health System. (2016, October 19). Dire effects of sports head injuries, concussions still a concern. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 30, 2016 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/10/161019082914.htm