Sports Head Injuries Take Many Forms, But All Could Prove Devastating, by Dr. Arthur Day

October 26, 2011 Comments Off on Sports Head Injuries Take Many Forms, But All Could Prove Devastating, by Dr. Arthur Day

Dr. Arthur Day, neurosurgeon and professor, discusses the devastation that even a seemingly minor sports-related head injury can cause.

As competition in all sports continues to get tougher, coaches and parents need to be especially vigilant about the possibility of head injuries. In some cases, athletes who have suffered traumatic brain injuries exhibit minimal or even no outward symptoms. However, in the worst cases, these incidents result in severe impairment and even death.

While some people dismiss concussion as a minor event, the fact remains that concussions shake the brain and damage neurons and nerve fibers. Many coaches, trainers, and physicians perform a Standardized Assessment of Concussion on athletes who have experienced a blow to the head or a jolting accident. This five-minute series of exercises and questions offers a quick evaluation of a player’s status, but does not always prove effective at discerning subtle physical or mental alterations that could indicate the presence of an acute injury. Even if the athlete remained conscious, he or she may be unable to describe or even recognize memory loss or lack of concentration. The coaches and the athlete often write off other symptoms, such as a persistent headache or dizziness, because of the initial fall or hit or because of heat.

Concussions sometimes lead to a swelling in the brain called second impact syndrome. This condition, which can be fatal, results from a second concussion that occurs before an athlete has completely recovered from a prior concussion. Vascular congestion of the brain and intracranial pressure compress the brain and may even cause it to seep through minute holes in the skull. Second impact syndrome often follows a blow or hit by several minutes; players may suddenly collapse even after appearing to be perfectly fine just moments earlier.

About the author: With more than 40 years of experience, Dr. Arthur Day trains neurosurgeons in his capacity as the Vice Chair of Clinical Education in Neurosurgery at the University of Texas Medical School at Houston. He specializes in minimally invasive spine surgery, microsurgery techniques to treat brain tumors and vascular lesions of the brain and spinal cord, and diagnosis and surgical treatment for neurological sports injuries.

Copyright 2011 – Dr Arthur Day Neurosurgeon


Dr. Arthur Day on Concussions, Part I: Overview

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.

Copyright 2012 – Dr Arthur Day Neurosurgeon

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