August 1, 2011 Comments Off on Dr. Arthur Day on Concussions, Part I: Overview
An accomplished neurosurgeon with nearly four decades of experience in the field of medicine, Dr. Arthur Day possesses an extensive background across a wide range of neurological disciplines. In particular, Dr. Day has accrued a wealth of knowledge and professional experience in the field of sports medicine, which often requires a thorough understanding of athletics. In addition to neurological conditions such as pinched nerves, concussions represent another common sports injury that has received a large share of attention from the players, the media, and members of the medical profession.
From the Latin word concussus, which refers to an event that involves two objects striking together, a concussion is a brain injury that generally occurs when the head comes into hard contact with another object. Inside the protective barrier provided by the skull, the brain is suspended in a bed of cerebrospinal fluid, which cushions it against everyday bumps and jolts and prevents it from crashing against the hard inner surface of the skull. If a person incurs sudden and violent contact to the head, the brain can push through the cerebrospinal fluid and strike the skull, which has the potential to injure the brain.
Although concussions can vary widely in their severity, most concussions share many of the same physical symptoms, including a headache, dizziness, and a loss of balance. More severe concussions can produce a wider range of physical symptoms, including vomiting, double vision, tinnitus, and even convulsions. In some cases, victims of trauma to the head have developed posttraumatic epilepsy, although the exact linkage between structural brain injury and epilepsy is still not fully understood.
Concussions also have the potential to cause damage to a person’s emotional and cognitive faculties. Common cognitive symptoms in the wake of a concussion include difficulty focusing, confusion, general disorientation, slurred speech, and a vacant stare. In some cases, concussion victims experience posttraumatic amnesia, which prevents them from remembering the events leading up to the injury. Similarly, concussions can bring about changes in a person’s emotional state, often causing inappropriate displays of emotion, depression, anxiety, and loss of interest in favorite activities. Such emotional and cognitive symptoms may manifest themselves in the immediate aftermath of the injury, or they may take hours or even days to appear.
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