WEST ORANGE, N.J., Dec. 18, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- The new movie Concussion draws attention to the issues surrounding brain injury, particularly the long-term effects on professional football players. However, the important message is that a concussion can impact anyone at any time, on or off the field.
"Between 1.4 and 3.8 million individuals sustain a concussion each year as a result of falls, motor vehicle accidents, acts of violence and sports," said Neil Jasey, M.D., Director of Brain Injury Services, Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation (www.kessler-rehab.com), West Orange, N.J. "The actual number is hard to pinpoint as these injuries are highly underreported. For example, studies show that nearly 50% of high school football players don't admit to having a concussion. The same holds true for soccer, hockey and other sports. Why? Because many student-athletes will disregard symptoms, and try to 'tough it out' to remain competitive. But a concussion is a serious injury that requires careful diagnosis and treatment."
What is a concussion?
By definition, a concussion – or mild traumatic brain injury – is a disruption in brain function caused by a blow to the head or jolt to the body. It may or may not involve a loss of consciousness, but does present a wide range of symptoms – from headaches and nausea to memory problems, behavioral changes and depression. If untreated, a concussion can lead to significant cognitive, emotional and social challenges at home, school, work or play.
Diagnosing a concussion can be difficult. MRIs and CT scans may help rule out a skull fracture or bleeding, but don't detect the subtle changes in the brain that signal a concussion. Recognizing the symptoms, getting proper medical attention and participating in a specialized concussion rehabilitation program are key to resuming activities as quickly and safely as possible.
Studies show that sports and recreational activities account for more than 25% of all traumatic brain injuries in children between the ages of 5 and 19. More than 40% of student-athletes also return to play too soon, which puts them at greater risk for long-term complications.*
Understanding the risks
"Individuals who have sustained a concussion are often impatient to get back to work or play, but it's critical that they take the time to allow the brain to heal," said Jennifer Skrapits, PT, Center Manager, Kessler Rehabilitation Center (www.kessler-pt.com). "It's also important to understand that no two injuries are alike, nor will people respond in the same way or recover at the same pace."
Early, specialized treatment has been shown to improve recovery and reduce the risk of future injury and long-term challenges. "Once a student-athlete sustains a concussion, they are four-to six times more likely to incur a second brain injury, which can lead to more serious, lifelong impairment."
Multiple concussions, as showcased in the new film, may lead to Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), a neuro-degenerative disease that can develop over a period of years or even decades. CTE causes mild to severe problems with memory, cognition, speech, movement, emotions, and violent or inappropriate behaviors. While prevalent among professional football players and boxers, others may also be at risk.
Treatment and Prevention
The best protection against injury is prevention, but it is difficult to prevent a brain injury. "No matter how careful we are, trips, hits and falls are going to happen at home, on the road or on the playing field," said Dr. Jasey. "So far, no protective equipment has been proven to prevent concussions. Helmets, however, can help reduce the severity of an injury when biking, skating, boarding or skiing, and companies are exploring advanced technologies and helmet designs for football and other hard-hitting sports."
For athletes, baseline and post-injury ImPACT® screenings are useful in assessing an injury. And for all individuals, being evaluated and treated by a specialized concussion care team, and allowing time for the brain to recover, can make all the difference in life ahead.
CONCUSSION: Know the Symptoms
- Balance difficulties
- Sensitivity to light/noise
- Vision problems
- Poor concentration
- Memory issues
- Sleep problems
- Behavioral changes
*Centers for Disease Control; U.S. Products Safety Commission.
Contact: Gail Solomon, 973.243.6879, Email
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SOURCE Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation