The physical demands of sports and recreational activities make athletes engaged in organized sports and even those “weekend warriors” susceptible to brain injuries. Although helmets and other athletic gear may reduce the degree of force to the head, they can never fully prevent a concussion. The Neurological Institute benefits from the leadership of nationally-recognized experts in the area of brain injury and sports medicine who are experienced at assessing and treating athletes at all levels—from professional and collegiate to high school and youth sports. They work closely with a team's athletic training and medical staff to determine when athletes are safely able to return to their sports activities for practice and/or competitive play after a concussion.
Many of our sports concussion specialists, including neurologists, sports medicine physicians, neuropsychologists and physiatrists, have worked with elite athletes from Chicago professional teams as well as served as consultants to high schools and colleges. They have vast experience assessing and treating concussions resulting from myriad athletic endeavors, from traditionally heavy contact sports like football, hockey and soccer to basketball and swimming.
A leading traumatic brain injury expert, chairman of neurosurgery at NorthShore and co-director of the Neurological Institute Julian Bailes, MD, leads the sports concussion program. Dr. Bailes has been a neurological consultant to the NFL Players’ Association (NFLPA), which has supported research on the effects of head injuries on retired professional athletes. He is the medical director of the Center for the Study of Retired Athletes based at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; medical director of Pop Warner Football; and an adviser to the NCAA. Associate director of the Neurological Institute’s sports concussion program, neuropsychologist Elizabeth Pieroth, PsyD, is the concussion specialist for the Chicago Bears, Blackhawks, White Sox, Fire and Northwestern University athletics, as well as countless high schools across the state. Dr. Pieroth is on the board of directors for the Brain Injury Association of Illinois and is a member of the USA Football Advisory Commitee.
Diagnosis and Treatment
In most cases, athletes who sustain a concussion are not knocked out; they often remain awake and continue talking normally. Parents are advised to watch children in both practice and game situations for any particularly hard hits or collisions with another athlete, the ground and/or objects.
It is critically important to properly diagnose a concussion and ensure that athletes do not return to their sport or other vigorous activity too quickly as they may be at greater risk of a second concussion. This may place them at risk for worsening symptoms or prolonged recovery.
Neurological Institute experts rely on their clinical experience in conducting thorough diagnostic assessments, using advanced CT and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technologies when needed. Our specialists may also use a variety of functional and neuropsychological tests to measure cognitive changes after a concussive injury.
Taking a break from physical exertion and taxing cognitive activities such as video games or watching television is often recommended until symptoms subside.
NorthShore is proud to host a ThinkFirst chapter, promoting injury and concussion prevention among youth and teens through outreach and community education. Dr. Bailes and NorthShore colleagues are active in promoting improved safety standards to lessen the risk of concussions.
For More Information
Please call 877.570.7020 for more information or to schedule an appointment with one of our concussion and head injury specialists or submit an online intake form.