Get Your Head in the Game: Concussion Fact vs. Fiction

Thursday, August 15, 2013 4:29 PM comments (0)

concussionPlaying a sport, whether contact or not, puts you at increased risk for injury. This includes many of the activities and sports kids and teens participate in during or after school. With any injury, especially head injuries, it’s important to know the difference between fact and fiction.   

Elizabeth Pieroth, PsyD, ABPP, the Associate Director of NorthShore University HealthSystem’s Sports Concussion Program, helps distinguish the facts from the fictions when it comes to concussion:

  • Fiction: You need to be “knocked out” to have a concussion.
    Fact: The majority of concussion episodes do not leave someone unconscious. In fact, only about one in every 10 concussions result in loss of consciousness.  
  • Fiction: Men suffer from concussions more than women.
    Fact: Women are just as prone to concussion as men. Some of the highest rates of concussions occur in women who play soccer, basketball or do cheerleading.  
  • Fiction: If you’re feeling fine, you probably don’t have a concussion and can continue to play.
    Fact: If you suspect that you or someone on your team has suffered a concussion, it’s important to stop play immediately. Symptoms don’t always surface right away, and it’s best to get examined by a trainer or team/family physician before going back to the game.
  • Fiction: The use of helmets and mouth guards can prevent and reduce your risk of concussion.
    Fact: While wearing a helmet can protect the head from fracture, it doesn’t guarantee reduced instances of concussion. As for mouth guards, there isn’t sufficient evidence to support the claim that head injuries can be reduced. Safety equipment in any sport is important, even if it doesn’t always protect from concussions.
  • Fiction: If someone has a concussion, they must avoid any and all stimulation until they are symptom-free.
    Fact: Most newly concussed patients will feel better if they avoid loud noises, bright lights and busy environments. However, there is no scientific evidence to support prolonged avoidance of stimulation. In fact, it may be counterproductive. It is more important to examine what triggers a person’s symptoms to better manage their environment.  
  • Fiction: It takes months to recover from a concussion.
    Fact: Most people who suffer a concussion recover in 1-2 weeks, although some have symptoms that persist. There are, however, treatments to treat lingering symptoms.

Have you ever suffered a concussion? 

Guest Post: Beth Pieroth, PsyD, ABPP –Academics Performance After Concussion

Monday, September 10, 2012 9:21 AM comments (0)

Concussion-AcademicsConcussive injuries in sports have been a hot topic for a number of years.  As of July 2011, a new Illinois State law requires that any athlete who exhibits the signs of a concussion must be removed from that practice or game, and cannot be returned to play until he or she has been cleared by an appropriately trained healthcare professional.  However, the law makes no mention of academics and most youth athletes will attend school before they are cleared to return to the field of play.  Our attention should then turn to addressing the issues of injured students.

A concussion occurs when a person suffers a blow or force to the head that results in changes in his or her mental status; this includes confusion, disorientation, memory or mental cloudiness.  The individual may complain of headache, dizziness, nausea, visual changes or fatigue, and may experience problems with attention and memory.

It is often difficult for a newly concussed student to manage the demands of school and their grades may suffer if their injury is not appropriately addressed. If a student athlete suffers from a concussion the following steps for an optimal recovery are recommended:

  • After the student has been evaluated by an emergency room physician, primary care physician, athletic trainer or a concussion specialist, have them rest.  They should avoid stimulating activities, such as loud televisions or music, video games or computer use. 
  • It is often best to allow the student to stay home from school for a few days.  The noise and chaos of a school environment, along with the demands of focusing in the classroom, can cause an increase in the student’s symptoms.  Many students will attempt to go to school, only to end up in the school nurse’s office with a headache.
  • If symptoms are manageable, I encourage students to return to school.  Missing too many days of school will often result in increased anxiety about the amount of schoolwork to be made up and isolation from friends.  However, it is recommended that the students not be required to complete homework, quizzes or tests during the acute recovery period. 
  • Most students will require brief academic accommodations, typically 1-2 weeks.  Some may not require any accommodations because they do not have significant cognitive deficits from their concussions.  However, a small percentage of students will benefit from additional accommodations and this should be handled on an individual basis.  The student should undergo cognitive testing to better determine that type of impairment he or she is experiencing and ways to manage the symptoms.
× Alternate Text